In most of the posts in this blog, a fair idea of what the post is going to be about emerges quite early in the week. The seed of a post turns around slowly in my head, as it is pushed this way or that by further reading and a little digging. This creative act of committing and organising these thoughts into legible ones and zeros is akin to sculpting something with a semi-formed pre-existing notion of what that something might be, chiseling away all the erroneous words and sentences until the thing being developed is what’s left.

But then, just occasionally, I feel I can internally perceive ‘something’ which needs to be written about, but, paradoxically, at the time of sitting down to write, I can’t quite even see it – I know it’s there; sitting behind preoccupations, or lurking with intent behind some sort of mental curtain, but it hasn’t quite even made it to the level of thought shaped by words – its like a pre-linguistic itch that needs (in a fleeting reference to Ted Hughes) to be linguistically ‘dug’ out and actually formed by this act of wordery. Given that words are predominately the medium of choice in these blogs, this makes things a little difficult. In these instances I’m exploring with the blog; sifting, uncloaking, attempting to systematise, (the unwieldy name of this blog was not an accident) but, as I delicately try to excavate the imaginative pre-linguistic sense of things and translate into shareable prose, I’m also aware that I’m unsure of the tools at my disposal. I’m like a butcher holding the scalpel of a surgeon, about to dive into a complex procedure – the very tools with which I seek to give form to the thing may destroy it by accident. Worse, there’s the highly probable realisation on the horizon that the internal phenomenology has been diluted; weakened through transposition, like a concerto reduced to a single melody line.

This blog entry, (you patient readers, you) is one of those entries. The second kind. Sentences here are started as exploratory forays into a landscape that I can’t quite grab, a picture that won’t quite be created to/for me. As I’m writing, I think – I think it has something to do with a personal perception of time, or specifically, pace. Or, more specifically, different paces and tempos (tempi? I don’t know). Or, travelling even further down the same route, multi-directional personal paces and tempo, which together are simultaneously accelerating/ being compressed.

I’m not intending to simply describe being busy and being pulled in a number of different directions here – this is commonplace in our 24/7, interconnected blended existences of speedy hyper-convenience. This is something more and different. The feeling is more fundamental, more creepingly and permanently transformative, like a sense of being subtly and continuously re-programmed in a certain way, or having neural networks shift in shape, never to slide back. Again, personal multidirectional pace seems a big part of this mental proprioception of self; its like a series of internal concurrent streams, racing and overlapping, even feeding each other at times – Cumulative pace and exponential acceleration.

I grab a chronologically ordered mental snapshot of my last 48 hours; Full day of meetings and visitors at Salford University – we sure are living in exciting times – packing for time away – business trip to Palestine, (passport-check) sorting out the house as my wife is out; a train ride into Manchester for a friend’s birthday meal, towing cases; the meal – boisterous burgers in a fast moving restaurant in Piccadilly Gardens, before heading to Breakout (24 minutes of quick-fire lateral thinking and group-based problem-solving run) leaving this early for the Piccadilly to Euston train, followed by stroke of midnight tube and taxi to touch pillow before an early taxi back to Terminal 5 check in and here I am now in flight, getting ready to magically bounce two hours ahead of myself as my feet hit the destination. In amongst these activities there are punctuating pauses; the moment with my friend in a coffee shop before the burgers (I went bun-less and had sweet potato fries), where the window frame composed a brief interlude of Saturday afternoon people-watching by the library in central Manchester and I marvelled at the complexity of it all in the micro and the macro, and then right now, tumbling out these sentences at 39,000 feet and thinking about action learning sets for the coming two days in Ramallah.

And inevitably I find that the picture is still fuzzy and the words have only begun to point towards the image of the idea. I can feel it still there, behind the curtains, smiling quietly.

See you next week.


Author: samgrogan

I am many sided; Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Experience at Salford University, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, driven Tough Mudder runner, and a lover of the outdoors. I live in the heart of the beautiful Peak District with my wife and our pets. On weekends, you'll find me out in the countryside with the dog, running or walking up a hill, or typically cooking for friends (I'm getting better, so they say) My role at Salford is one I cherish. I'm one of the fortunate few who wake up excited about the day ahead. It's really not work when it's this much fun. As part of the Vice-Chancellor's Executive Team I work alongside a gifted and dedicated team of creative educationalists passionate about being better tomorrow than we are today. As PVC SE at Salford I hold executive responsibility for both the assurance of quality and standards of our institutional academic portfolio, and its strategic direction and character. Intertwined with this facet of my role, I am responsible for strategic leadership and enhancement of the wider student experience and the development of a distinctive Salford learning environment. My overall purpose, driven by these two key parts of my role, is to develop a bold, playful learning landscape at Salford which delivers holistic sustainable success, preparing our students for life. I'm fascinated by how people learn, and how we might collectively make that experience result in a profound expansion of personal and professional horizons and an extension of possibilities for all parties involved. My greatest reward comes from seeing thresholds crossed, barriers broken, new habits formed and changes made. To this end, I'm also endlessly absorbed in considering how we might develop better, more useful ways of integrating the digital landscape and other technologies, emerging and present, into the act of learning. I think we're just beginning - a brave new world awaits... My background is in performance - Before undertaking my PhD and before spending the first half of my university career as a lecturer, programme leader and head of department, in my early career I acted, danced and made theatre across the world. This ten year experience continues to be fundamental in shaping the way I think about teaching and learning. At its best I see it as a facilitated journey of discovery, play, risk and adventure anchored in 'reflective doing'. Not 'knowing' in this context is often a signal that a useful path is being trodden - Thinking on its own is just rehearsal...

2 thoughts on “Time?”

  1. Loved reading this one Sam. Your use of language is almost always as interesting as the subject matter.
    This post got me thinking about our use of text messages as prose. It seems so often we grab the phone dash out a message and hit send without the filter getting in the way. If only all literary creations could feel so free!
    The filter is, I think, that I define able thing that stands sentinel between our brains and hands, mouths or bodies during a creative moment. Sometimes we win, sometimes IT wins, but it’s always an interesting experience.


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