July 28, 2020

WFH: DAY 103: 7.15 am: Ablutions:

8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: There are days when a sense of relentless routine greets me at the kitchen door. Tuesday (again). The snow-dome required a shake-up. The sound compositions were well into their stride. Thus, I could afford to lay that project aside for awhile and push-on with other plans, shortly. I attended to postgraduate admissions before readying myself for a training session about online provision.

10.00 am: I strongly suspect that the skills that staff are learning in the Covid-19 world will shape the ‘normal’ conditions of pedagogy in the years ahead. In the future, university education will have a diffuse boundary: there’ll be slippage between presence and non-presence, and real-reality and virtual reality. Not only will the technology but also the psychology of learning and teaching change significantly — for learner and teacher alike. First-year students, this year, will have to negotiate a new place of education, a new system of administration, a new depth of subject experience (these are the challenges that they’ve always had to deal with) and, on top of this, a new culture of technologically-aided delivery, reception, interaction, and assessment. This’ll be a huge leap forward for everyone concerned. I’m not even beginning to consider how we’ll support the students’ mental health and well-being as they confront this new-world order.

11.15 am: A treat, courtesy of Mrs H’s shopping excursion into the fearful land of the too-often unmasked and too-little socially-distancing out-of-townees on holiday. ‘Aber folk have coped well with Covid-19, because they’ve exercised due diligence. Please honour that!’

11.30 am: I returned to the second version of the ‘Sweet Bell Ringing’ composition, and considered a second take on the same. Always, the aim is to simplify and make less work harder. The effort was worthwhile. Prior to lunch, I listened again to my whispered prayer sample. I was still not convinced. Presently, it sounded too much like Electronic Voice Phenomena. But, then again, that’s precisely what it was: an electronic noise that evoked a human voice. I was in a quandary. There’s a thin line between mimicry and equivalence.

1.30 pm: I slowed down the whispered prayer by 50%. It settled into the fabric of the sound far better. In for a penny … I began arranging the components related to the first part the account of ‘Thought the House Was Going Away’. Two loud ‘bangs’, heard as a minister knelt beside his bed, praying. Three other noises are described. But they occur at other times, albeit in the same house. The narrative disjunction presents a challenge; for the composition must have continuity. This was new territory … for me.

The next task was to construct and even louder bang. 3.45 pm: I returned to studying accounts of spirit manifestations that weren’t accounted in Jones’s books. 4.30 pm: On the town. The tourists had headed home:

Signs of the time:

7.30 pm: The title-page of the 1780 edition of Jones’ book has the clause ‘To which is added the remarkable account …’. In this case, an account of an apparition in Sunderland. This provided me with a justification for moving beyond the bounds both of the books’ accounts and, if necessary, Wales. There is one account in particular that has continued to intrigue me. It’s found in Henry Lewys’s booklet, The True and Wonderful Relation of the Dreadful Fighting and Groans that were Heard and Seen in the Ayr, on The Fifteenth of this Instant January in Carmarthen, in South Wales, published in 1671. In a footnote to The Appearance of Evil, I wrote:

Surprisingly, Jones did not know about or else chose not to include the account of a remarkable apparition that took place in the sky over Carmarthen. It was seen by many people simultaneously and comprised groanings, appeals, and cries, and what appeared to be a succession of aerial battles between two armies and two fleets of ships which took place over many hours on two successive days. Some writers claimed that similar progenies appeared over other parts of Great Britain and several European countries during seventeenth century. In England, these manifestations may have expressed a collective, social anxiety in response a century characterized by instability, civil war, and great disasters: notably the Great Plague, and the Great Fire of London.

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