January 27, 2020

The future is not some place we’re going to, but an idea in our mind now. It is something we’re creating, that in turn creates us. The future is a fantasy that shapes our present (Stephen Grosz, The Examined Life (2013).)

8.00 am: A communion. These days it’s with apprehension rather than anticipation that I embark upon each new semester. Will I have the reserves of energy sufficient – not for my endeavours principally, but, rather – for those students who’ve too little themselves? There’s a danger that academics are becoming charge points for the weak and weary. A sufficient level of self-confidence isn’t guaranteed either. The criticisms, injustices, and unrealistic expectations faced by academics can, over time, bore through the toughest skin and force them into an early retirement or grave. I’ve heard of genuinely excellent teachers who’ve concluded their careers believing themselves to be have been the very worst. The longer the tenure the more likely it will end in failure (or with the perception of such). Few can excel in a culture that demands tested excellence across the board of activities. And those who do reach the high watermark of attainment do so only for a while and at a great cost to their health, family, and friends.

8.30 am: I surveyed the landscape of the semester, the week, the day, the morning, the hour, and the Post-its before me. First, a review of the weekend’s incoming mail (and its implications). (In the background: Kate Bush’s 50 Words for Snow (2011).) In parallel, I put together materials for tomorrow’s classes. It’s the sheer number of itty-bitty tasks spread across the whole arena of my activities that provokes despair. (I considered the architecture and opportunities of my future. The question: ‘Who will I be, then?’ presses upon me more compellingly than ‘What and where will I be?) 11.00 am: A brief review of the PA system’s diagrammatic:

Thereafter, a review of the funding application that I’d also completed on Saturday. Further supportive detail was added. Thus ‘Noisome Spirits: Auditions of Apparitions’ came into being. By lunchtime, the grey clouds had yielded to blue sky. On with the beckoning priorities. Hunt the image source and reproduction (again), in order to illustrate an article. And if I need to DIY an original, then, the bathroom makes an excellent lighting studio. I’ve heard of artists who paint in their bathrooms. The electric guitarist Les Paul recorded in his. (It had just the right quality of reverberation.):

5.30 pm: While the oven heated-up to temperature, I returned to the bathroom for a more conventional purpose:

7.30 pm: I returned to the ‘Noisome Spirits’ project and, on this occasion, to the academic text for the project. Between 2002 and 2014, I’d written several unpublished conference papers based upon my book about Edmund Jones’ accounts. So, there was quite a bit of material to pillage/recycle and compress down to form the introduction to the CD release. Never write again what you’ve written before.

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