Whilst the author is a frequent visitor to events that would broadly fall under the umbrella of “The Arts”, their coverage within this blog falls short of the levels of illumination and insight which would be required if the broadsheet ambitions of GofaDM are to be achieved. Indeed, it might be thought that analysis of the comfort of the seating and the quality of the interval snacks has been the dominant theme of the arts coverage heretofore.
Well, no more. I am taking decisive action to improve the quality of the arts-based drivel which sometimes adorns this electronic publication. No, I am not firing the current writer and hiring a new team (neither budget nor ego permit): GofaDM will continue to follow the British (rather than American) sitcom model, i.e. it will represent the flawed vision of a single auteur, rather than the carefully honed product of a team of skilled writers. Instead, my chosen approach is to re-train the current writer to improve his critical skills in the sphere of the arts (I will then attempt to instruct an ancient canine in the art of prestidigitation).
As the first, and so far only, step in this bold new initiative I have just started a course with the Open University entitled “The Arts: Past and Present”, aka AA100 (so, I expect a 12-step plan to be involved – still, I think this post covers step 1). This promises to hone my critical faculties over the coming months til they are sharp enough to split any passing breeze into its constituent zephyrs.
My new life as an (im)mature student has commenced with consideration of the representation of Cleopatra (VII, for the avoidance of doubt) through the ages, Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and the art of Paul Cézanne. I can later look forward to studying the immortal Sophocles, Josef Stalin and the role of the diva among many other topics (other peanut-based chocolate snacks are available).
For the first three subjects, I do have some “form” as I believe they say. I have seen Anthony and Cleopatra staged twice – once with an all-male cast – and have read a range of history books covering the period. As regular readers will know, I saw Dr Faustus only last summer – so do know what happens. This was just as well, as the set version of the text contains extensive notes which are rife with serious “spoilers” for anyone coming to the story afresh. I’ve also been a fan of Cézanne’s work for a while, and have seen a number of exhibitions over the years – now, perhaps, I’ll know what I was looking at!
However, there is a major challenge coming with the first written assignments (or essays as we, less pretentiously, called them when I was at school). The first two essays I am required to complete in no more than 500 words. As should have become abundantly clear to even an occasional reader of this blog, I am not good at keeping it brief. The last time I had to work within a 500 word limit was for the précis part of my English Language ‘O’ Level back in 1981 – and I had 30 years less junk cluttering up my cranium (and keen to escape onto the page) back then. Perhaps it was this worry which caused me to turn up to my first tutorial exactly 24 hours late – not an entirely auspicious start, but I was absolutely convinced that 8 Feb was a Thursday. Things, as one Anthony Aloysius Blair tried to convince us back in 1997, can only get better! (Though in that specific case, the evidence is at best equivocal.)
Despite my brevity trepidation, the course has been great fun so far – and I have certainly found myself thinking very different thoughts as I wait to fall asleep of a night (rather a pleasant change from worrying about the future direction of electricity markets). I fear post quality has yet to improve (or fall within a 500 word limit) but it’s still early days…