May 28, 2021

7.00 am: A communion. 7.30 am: I committed two hours to reading and revising the first diary before turning to postgraduate admin and returning to moderation. (In reality I’m, more often that not, immoderate.)

I posted emails that required tact and sensitivity in my reply. (In the background: Henry Purcell’s Come Ye Sons of Art (1694).) 11.00 am: I dealt with accumulating emails and began to plan my campaign to make the coming annual PhD Research Monitoring exercise as painless, straightforward, and unvexing as possible. In between tasks, I ‘cut-down’ further diary posts. They testify to periods of utter relentlessness; bouts of recurrent ME (brought-on by overwork and burning the candles at both ends too often); tasks that had to be undertaken even while I was ill; and pressure points that prevented me from being able to either spend my full holiday entitlement or enjoy family occasions, because my responsibilities prevailed. The fault for this can’t be laid at the door of either the School or this University. These evils were (and remain) the result of systemic problems in UK Higher Education. (In the background: Scott Walker, Bish Bosch (2012). One reviewer wrote of the album: ‘Listening to Bish Bosch is … a bruising, draining experience … Who wants to buy an album you can hardly bear to listen to?’ I suspect that the same observations could be levelled at my own sound work.)

2.00 pm: My paper entitled ‘The Spirit Cried’ (Mark 9.26): sounds of the dead, damned, and demonic in the landscape of eighteenth-century Wales’ has been accepted for the ‘Soundscapes in the Early Modern World’ online conference in July, organised by Liverpool John Moores University. So, at least one of my priorities in the post-assessment period had declared itself:

I embarked upon the tortuous process of organising the annual Institute monitoring of PhD research students. (Deep breath!) 4.15 pm: ‘Breakout’. Norway in Wales:

6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.15 pm: I was moderated-out, so I continued at a gentler pace to revise (and reflect upon) the diary posts until the close of the evening.

Anticipations:

Recently, the vague notion of a soundscape based upon the industry and landscape of South Wales has drawn my attention. My commitment to the study of these subjects has been dormant for a number of years. Therefore, the insistence of this idea has surprised me. I’ve not sought it; it has found me. And, I’ve learned to always answer a knock on the door (June 9, 2015).

We live in strange and unsettling days. The freedom to be, act, and speak according to conscience and with due regard for the best interests of others — which we once considered sane and self-evident — is threatened. Fear and panic have corroded that freedom; control has replaced trust; blame and shame have become the primary motivators; compliance and surrender are made the touchstones of loyalty; statistics become the measure of reality; manipulation is masked by good intentions; and plans substitute for vision. As a consequence, the heart is made heavy; the soul shrinks; the spirit is broken; and the intellect, bound (October 5, 2015).

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