June 17, 2021

Wednesday, June 16. 7.15 am: A communion. 7.45 am: I jump-started the day with an ’emergency/immediate’ copyedit of a short article on my works from The Pictorial Bible series, which will appear in a publication by the Visual Theology organisers. This will accompany The Tyndale Fellowship’s forthcoming conference:

For someone who seems to perennially to have his ‘head up his past’, returning to visual art works and ways of thinking that go back to the beginning of this century is an unsettling experience. The past can be not only a resource but also, and unhelpfully, a blackhole that draws you back into itself. It takes enormous will power to escape that gravitational pull. Forward motion, and with it change, are necessities rather than options. Of course, for those who alight upon one’s previous work for the first time, it’s new and very present. That’s a perspective that must be honoured too. ‘I’d rather not talk about it anymore!’ is not a professional attitude (however, true this might be in the mind of the artist). The article’s writer confused my Google profile with that of another ‘John Harvey’, born in 1935. ‘I may look that old, but ….’, I chided. And, later, I recounted:

This is the story of my life. People come up to me at conferences and ask ‘Are you the John Harvey who writes those wonderful crime thrillers?’ ‘Sorry’, I reply. ‘So are you the John Harvey that wrote that exceptional volume on puritan dress codes?’ ‘No, alas!, I admit. ‘Or the John Harvey who makes the delightful watercolours, perhaps?’ (Shakes head.) ‘No. I’m the John Harvey who makes horrid noises;  impenetrable, coldly-cerebral, and largely colourless painting; and texts that no one reads’, I confess. ‘Oh, dear!’, they respond.

10.00 am: Mr Iliff had begun to work his magic on the ‘Intersections‘ website. I returned to it to assess progress and identify any remaining flaws that I could deal with. The new ‘Homilies’ sub-section had been established on the site. ‘Bring-on the sermonettes’ (which sounds like an American, black, female group of soul singers from the 1950s). I returned to ‘Intersections’ in order to rejig the ‘My Music‘ blog (which had been the first post). This took more time than I’d either envisaged or possessed.

A late birthday present. Well, it makes my heart beat a little faster. When I was conducting research for my PhD Art History, the original version of this volume, published in 1868, was often at my elbow:

3.00 pm: I put the past away and engaged with the PowerPoint template that I’d begun designing yesterday evening. Once I was confident of the visual character of the presentation, I could move on into the writing and, thereafter, develop the text and images in parallel — which is how they would be experienced by the online audience. In the background, what sounded like bush-trimmers applied electrical tools that grizzled and moaned through whatever they were cutting.

7.30 pm: I returned to the ‘Intersections’ website.

Thursday, June 17. 6.30 am: A communion. 7.00 am: As maintenance of my website proceeds, the template-style for this diary changed overnight. (‘What’s happening!?’) I rang the alarm bells. Over the past week, I’ve been receiving emails asking about the School’s two new lecturing posts in Painting. For obvious reasons, I’m a bystander on this occasion; I cannot have any input with regard to my successor’s appointment. It’ll be good to have new faces among the staff, come September. When I began lecturing, the post that I’d secured was in ‘Art’ — meaning, that the successful applicant ought to be able to deliver painting, and drawing and art history also. (General dog’s body kinda stuff.) I had ‘no hours of work’. Which sounded good; but, in reality, it meant that you were expected to put in as many as God gave. While, officially, my ‘Weekly Hours’ are presently and likewise ‘36.5’, my actual working time exceeds that figure by over 100%. It’s good to see that the starting salary is far far better these days than it was in 1992:

8.00 am: I posted times for the fine art and dissertation tutorials and undertook remaining assessment admin in readiness for next week’s first and second year exam board. On, then, with postgraduate applications, assessment checks, and External Examiner matters. 10.15 am: I’d found sound recordings of two public lectures given for a Lent and an Advent series of talks in 2005 and 2015, respectively, that would be uploaded to the ‘Spoken Word‘ website, late afternoon:

There was also an essay on the Bible and transmediality that was lurking at the ‘back of a draw’, which needed to find a home in some publication. Originally, it was intended to be placed in a journal on film studies, but the issue editor never delivered. Disappointments and frustrations of this sort happen in Academia, from time to time. I would consult an old pal and collaborator for their advice. I’ve felt unusually optimistic and hopeful today, for some reason. In the background, website tweaks, ‘issues’, and correspondence continued. (This is the season for site-sifting. Some problems in life cannot be resolved either immediately or straightforwardly.) The morning had been whittled away by little things. The afternoon required something singular, focused, and substantive for me to get my teeth into.

1.30 pm: On with the conference PowerPoint and lecture. 4.15 am: The sea was alive — rapturous, and enjoying being itself. The sun (as though) entered the water, highlighting the peaks and rivulets. All about me seemed wonderfully transformed. I was elevated.

7.30 pm: Website anomalies persisted (but weren’t insoluble), and replies to letters I’d posted during the morning were received. 8.00 pm: I listened again to the ‘proof’ for the Noisome Spirits CD.

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