Summa: diary (June 1-7, 2024)

‘Blindness and sight … wrong and right’ (Joni Mitchell, ‘Shadows and Light’, Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975)).

June 1 (Saturday). 5.45 am: If the wood pigeons are up, then, so should I be too. 7.30 am: Ambulation.

Walking towards me on the Promenade came the artist and my friend and colleague, Miranda Whall. Her interdisciplinary theater work When the Earth Speaks: A Dirty Ensemble will be staged at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on June 8. We talked about transitions — made, being made, and to be made.

8.30 am: Studiology. Listening. Listening. Listening to the sounds, while inserting images of the icon’s panels next to each track, and compiling biblical texts, related to the Nicene Creed, for inclusion in the album’s information sections. I’m providing the listener with material that informed my responses to the Creed, rather than discussing how I dealt with it — which is evident from the work itself. In any case, I don’t yet know what I’ve done, fully. That’s why I’ll continue to learn from the work, and it’ll remain a progressive revelation to me about the subject, my endeavours, and myself. 4.00 pm: I closed the day listening to Affirmation‘s tracks in a random order — which was a good way to discern whether any one exceeded the loudness of the others.

June 2 (Sunday).

June 3 (Monday). 5.30 am: Arise. 6.00 am: Writing, revising the Affirmation text before beginning the bespoke website, and composing references for postgraduate applicants. 9.00 am: Websiteology. This will take some time, if the previous seven are the measure of things. While this and the last album do not require such an extensive account of themselves, for the purpose of academic research assessment, I’m compelled by the principle of consistency to complete the series to date in exactly the same way as I have the others.

2.00 pm: I continued to insert information into the website and compose applicant references into the evening.

June 4 (Tuesday). 8.30 am: The start of a medical day. I gave a blood sample at my GP surgery on which wide-ranging allergy tests will be performed. Two years ago, the same procedure proved inconclusive. One theory is my body has a non-allergic allergy-like reaction to nothing in particular due to an over-active immune system. I’d drunk half-a-dozen large glasses of water to hydrate my veins before attending the appointment with the nurse. By the end of it, my bladder was bursting.

9.00 am: On, then, to Carmarthen, so that another member of the family could experience the enjoys of NHS intervention. I sat patiently in the waiting room and succumbed to an involuntarily mind-wipe by day-time TV programmes. The banality! My spirits lifted at a reputable fish and chips [fries] restaurant in the town, which served one of the tastiest cod and chips I’d ever enjoyed. It’s a simple meal that’s relatively straightforward to cook — vulnerable in its own way — but very easy to get wrong.

The route home was along the west coast (which sounds very cool and sexy). It’s not the Big Sur to San Francisco run, but no less enthralling for that. It provided my first view of the Irish Sea on my first ever visit to Aberystwyth in March 1982, when I attended an interview for the MA Visual Art course at the, then, Visual Art Department of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

9.00 pm: The first of the televised debates between the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer. They were constrained to answer questions from the floor within 45 seconds, which forced the candidates to speak in soundbites rather than enter into an informed discussion. This format may work for game shows, but it does an injustice to the cause of democratic debate.

June 5 (Wednesday). 7.00 am: Writing, and placing image furniture onto the Affirmation website. 11.00 am: Logology. Every time the image is updated, I wonder whether it’s for the last time. Originally, The Aural Bible series was going to be a trilogy — an acoustic parallel to The Pictorial Bible trilogy of visual art projects. However, the sound projects developed a momentum of their own. One must always go with the work. The work is the boss.

June 6 (80th Anniversary of D-Day Landing). 6.00 am: A review of the last few day’s work and some medical research before I arranged a further consultation with my GP. With an immunological deficit, the range of symptoms and spread across the body is significant. Its a challenge to keep on top of things.

Things like websites, too. The annual update of all websites was due. Consistency and comprehensiveness are the watch words; I endeavour to achieve to these ideals, and invariably fail.

10.00 am: I continued with the album site, while updating the main John Harvey website with information relevant to the new release, and thinking about the next few squares on the projects board. 7.30 pm: An evening of writing references and domestic admin.

In the wider world: People go missing everyday. My social media feeds regularly deliver photographs of, and pleas for, information about those who ventured out but never came back. When a TV presenter and celebrity, such as Michael Moseley vanishes, the plight of the uncelebrated, but no less loved, comes into focus. Some are found alive, others not, and some are never seen again, having determinately wandered into another life somewhere else. The D-Day commemoration had paused party campaigning for the forthcoming national election. Some things are more important than politics. Although that conviction was clearly not shared by the UK Prime Minister, who left the event early to attend a TV interview. Words like ‘belief’ and ‘beggars’ come to mind.

June 7 (Friday). 6.00 am: Writing and checking work already undertaken on the websites, and updating information. It’s painfully slow work that cannot be hurried. I move from studio to study, desktop to laptop. Finally, CV updating.

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

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