London Diary





Have been working hard on translating 'generic' soccer-commentaries from English into Dutch. I thinkx it's turning out pretty well, and I'm almost half way through the assignment. Should check up on some of the more technical stuff, but it's all there, basically.

In between the offsides, free kicks, through passes and the occassional hattrick I read one of the novels that Brian gave me last week: Time's Arrow, by Martin Amis, who had the fascinating idea to write a story that is like a movie viewed backwards. Now, of course, whenever you actually see a movie being played backwards, your mind's instant reaction to the sudden overdose of 'logically' absurd input usually will be one of mirth, it will release itself of the strain through shouts of wild laughter. For some short period of time. After which most of us will have 'classified' the thing as outright 'wrong'. You'll get fed up with everybody and all things moving in the 'wrong' way, the incomprehensible backward talking, and simply loose interest.
But, except for the fact that it is not the way in which our lifes are evolving, there's nothing 'illogical' about moving backwards, neither in space, nor in time... And like someone who has been walking around long enough wearing glasses that turn the world-as-he-sees-it upside down gradually looses all awareness of the fact that he is seeing things the 'other way' around, one could try to imagine an 'observer' of a 'time-reversed' world knowing no better than that this is 'the way things are going'. Amis uses such a 'spectator' to tell us the 'time reversed' life of a Nazi-med, from the guy's death on to his youth and birth, and hints at some sort of 'mirroring' of most of our moral categories: under time reversal 'good' becomes 'evil', 'evil' becomes 'good'. Creation is destruction, destruction is creation.

The 'time-reversed' description of almost any of our day-to-day activities is a delicious literary trick. Just imagine making love 'the other way around': 'fucking' - or rather: gnikcuf - will start off with the guy violently extracting sperm from the girl's body, which then apparently provides both of them with the 'fuel' for a period of furious pumping, curling and twirling, that gradually will cease and turn into caressing, kissing, to end in a final, maybe mutual, 'dressing up' of the actors.
But there is more to the book than mere literary trickery: the narrator actually tries to 'make sense' of what he's observing. And in trying to do so he's just too fuzzy about wherewarts his time is flowing. This accounts both for the greatness of the original idea and the utter - but heroic, it's truly amazing, a real tour de force! - failure of the novel. Of course it's just not possible to 'isolate' time from human consciousness and reverse the arrow without messing up a lot of other 'things'. But which 'things' and why? 'Time's Arrow' could have been a masterpiece, if only there would have been a mere hint as to possible answers!

I was relieved to find this morning that also the strongest of my six little prisoners had finally passed away. What was left in the aquarium were just six stinking dead mice.
Time's arrow took care of that... ;-).
And during all of these days there has been no apparent sign of cannibalism... Maybe that's why I lost interest, and I almost forgot about them, were it not for the stench getting worse and worse.
Threw the lot into the dustbin: aquarium, mice and what remained of my trap.