Anxiety’s Arrow

The title of this blog post is derived from Martin Amis’s 1991 novel Time’s Arrow.  From what I remember the title and central metaphor of the novel is taken from Physics, the idea that there is no particular reason why cause and effect cannot be swapped around.  So a sequence of events could just have easily happened in reverse.

The reason this is on my mind is that I gave my first reading as a featured reader last Thursday.  Something I managed to get myself into something of a state about, the anxiety in question.  And although it went well, helped by a supportive and attentive audience.  I feel similar feelings of anxiety extending backwards in time now the event is over.  The source of these feels is probably an over developed desire not to let people down.  So my publisher will not regret publishing me, the audience is not bored or confused, and to do myself justice.

It was a learning experience.  The most important lesson being not to over prepare, and to take the chance of engaging with the audience.  I would like to enjoy reading, and have done in the past, at open-mic and group events.  Probably the worse thing I did in preparing was to read through my poem again, and again to the point I was starting to get tired of one or two of them.  Perhaps this is the lesson, that is a poem, or any piece of writing is good enough it can stand endless repetition.  Heaven and hell are the same for writers: reading your own work for all eternity.  But I do not think so.

In his novel Slaughter House Five Kurt Vonnegut has a similar but somewhat more consoling vision of time.  In which all of time exists together, we only appear to move through time because we take a particular path through an otherwise fixed reality.  The alien Tralfamadorians see the whole of time at once, and as result have less to be anxious about.