June 29, 2021

6.00 am: I’d had a poor night’s sleep — waking too often and too early. 6.45 am: A communion:

8.15 am: I’d dozed-off for half-an-hour in the armchair. Afterwards, I caught up on replies from the conference convenor regarding queries that I’d sent yesterday. Presently, most of the snarly-narly, unresolved, and hard to resolve matters of academic life are on my table at once — by design. For if I ignored them any longer, then they’d just get bigger and more intractable. 9.40 am: Into the rain and onto the streets towards the dentists, for the first of two sequential appointments. My mouth would feel like a battlefield by the close of the morning. Ah! The mandatory invitation to illusory consolation, before the dentist drills into your head with obvious relish, and charges you an arm and a leg for the pleasure. (Payment: Because I rarely use my credit cards other than for online shipping these days, I forget their PINs. (Sigh!)) Do they have notices like this in the waiting room leading to the firing squad, I wondered?:

12.30 pm: I extricated myself, and walked home pondering the physical and financial pain of prospective root-canal treatment. En route, I was in ambulatory-office mode — responding to responses to my early-morning postings, and getting things moving in the right direction.

2.00 pm: An afternoon of MA fine art tutorials. Our discussions were wide-ranging. At a time when the UK Government is withdrawing funding from the arts and humanities in favour of nurturing so-called STEM subjects, we need to remind ourselves as artists that what we do is invaluable not only personally but also culturally, historically, and socially. (We try to make sense of ourselves and our experience and, thereby, of the world.) There’re periods in our working lives when nothing we embark upon seems worthwhile, and when everything else appears to commend itself as being a far more justifiable use of our time, energies, and resources. Therefore, the encouragement, support, and corrective perspective of a community of like-minded people is essential, if we’re to keep going. Few artists can survive long as lone rangers. We talked, too, about animated paintings, paintings as cinema, and the elegance and intelligence of Sesame Street’s illustrations and music in the late 1970s especially. Was there ever a pedagogical method for teaching the very young more beautiful and engaging than this?

Signs of the time:

My bedtime reading. Coltrane received his name from the Scottish gentry who’d enslaved his ancestors. He drank liberally, in part as a self-administered anaesthetic, because his teeth rotted and ached due to an over-indulgence in sweets. (Coltrane hated going to the dentists.) He also took heroine because, like so many of his young and impressionable contemporaries in jazz, he knew that the renowned Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker had, and thought that the drug helped make him the astonishing saxophone player he was. Whereas, in reality, heroine contributed to Parker’s early demise, as it would (together with alcohol) to Coltrane’s too.

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