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Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is (Psalm 39.4). This is my ‘Mother’s Day’; the day she passed away (June 30, 1987).

7.30 am: A communion.

8.30 am: I’d a 9.00 am haircutting appointment in town and, thus, time to look-out from the Promenade at the sea ‘and those that therein were’ braving the cold water. Most of the students have returned home, and the holiday-makers are still thin on the ground. The town seems sparsely populated. Now there’s, for the greater part, only ‘us’ — the locals. 9.30 am: There was admin to clear before I could attend to the meat of the day. The finalisation of the annual blesséd PhD Research Monitoring forms beckoned; payment for The Aural Bible V project, arranged; PhD examination plans, considered; and preliminary considerations regarding the annual blesséd change of the university’s blesséd IT password, entertained. (Groan #1)

11.30 am: Then there was my ‘Image and Inscription: Sonification as an Interpretive Methodology in Transmedial Biblical Study’ article to finalise for the Die Bibel in der Kunst journal. (Groan #2.) In Academia, it’s insufficient to simply make art. You’ve also to construct a historical, theoretical and an interpretive framework around it. (This is the task of our PhD Fine Art students too.) Each of four The Aural Bible CD releases, and all three of The Pictorial Bible series exhibitions, has had a book chapter/journal article, several conference papers, and either a website or a sub-website dedicated to it.

For the past three years, a book on sound and the Bible has been simmering in the background. My chapter entitled ‘”The Hearing Ear and the Seeing Eye”: Transformative Listening to the Biblical Image’ — due to be published in July — will be the proposed book’s ‘calling card’. Of all the humanities, biblical and theology studies have been among the slowest to address the sonic aspect of Scripture. I suspect that scholars in these fields have neither the experience in sound studies nor the imagination to see/hear the relevance of textual representations of acoustic phenomena.

Even when visual art has been subject of scrutiny, biblical scholars have tended to deal with paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs, etc. as images illustrative of the text, rather than as processes, mediums, constructions, and formal propositions also. It takes either an artist or a practice-informed art historian to deal with these dimensions of the artefact. Too often, the artefact is deployed like a surrogate text, and exposited as such. Art is reduced to the status of a utility — as it had been in the nineteenth century, at the hands of clerics and ministers who were searching for ways in which to make their sermons appeal to a cultured congregation. In this respect, abstract art was more or less useless for their purposes.

John Harvey, Philadelphia (Rev. 3.7-12) (2007) oil on board, 50 x 50 x 2.5 cm, Authorised Version

1.30 pm: On with formatting the conference paper text. (In the background: Steve Reich, The Cave (1993).) The best conference papers that I’ve ever listened to were written to be heard. Their sense could be assimilated in the moment of reception, and the prose was often also winningly composed, such as to be pleasurable for the ear to behold. The worst conference papers have sounded like a thesis chapter being read aloud. I found myself unable to comprehend the flow of densely-packed ideas sufficiently quickly to keep pace with the argument. Thus while it may have been dazzlingly impressive in its content, the presentation failed at the bar of clear communication. As I read (aloud) through my own text, I asked myself: ‘What could I afford to omit?’

4.00 pm: To the cemetery, where I thought of her lying in another. 7.30 pm: An evening of finalisations.

Putting things away: surfaces (2002–21):


Reflections upon a hardening heart:

The scent of his betrayal, discovered

Is anything too difficult for the Lord? (Genesis 18.14).


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June 29, 2021