The Arrogance of Time
From LOVE and a Night of Infinite Resignation
My aim with The Arrogance of Time is to give a memoir of my experiences with my own mental health as well as what I learned by being around others with similar, worse, or just drastically different experiences that all usually have to do with mental health and yield a similar result, the formation of a close bond with the individual that I will never forget and the need for us all as human beings to be open to sharing our struggles and being willing to help.
The Arrogance of Time was originally conceived as a three-movement sonata, and indeed I am working on the other two movements now. But when I finished the movement, I realized it was quite long and fulfilling on its own. Therefore there are two versions of this work, this stand-alone movement, and the full sonata whose first movement is a condensed form of this piece.
With this movement, I wanted to specifically document what happens in an anxiety attack. This was difficult at first because everyone has unique experiences with their anxiety attacks. Mine varies, but usually, they’re silent and unnoticeable to an outsider. This is because I grew up in a household that didn’t attack makes things worse and so my body eventually adapted and I got good at hiding them when they happened, but it’s still miserable.
In an episode my worst enemy is time. I tell myself “it will be over soon, just hold it out for a couple minutes” but just as my thoughts get distorted so does my sense of time. Seconds feel like hours, and minutes feel like days, while I get bombarded by what feels like a smoke grenade being detonated in my head, sometimes taking days to clear up.
Musically, I portray this feeling right off the bat, with various attempts to fix a beat to tempo. There are swirling thoughts in the forms of different themes that appear in and out of a cloud of notes of an ambiguous center. It’s a sonata form with 2, 3, or 4 themes, depending on how you look at it. It has 2, 3, 4, or more pitch centers depending on how you hear it, it can have different pitch centers at the same time while still being the same material. The development’s ambiguous and it’s hard to determine what is a cadence when I can’t establish anything else. One thing I do know for sure though is that this movement is very personal, it’s a musical portrayal of my thought process during an anxiety attack. It takes various things happening in my life, good, bad or neutral, and makes them all bad. It finds ways of to create suffering when I have no reason to. I’m unable to tell if my friends hate me or not if I’m lonely or not, and even when I lose all sense of time and relation, I’m still not even able to convince myself that I’m having an anxiety attack. The piece ends solidly in A minor, turning the themes into a bit of Rachmaninoff style desperation taking all the themes, a cadential rest from panic towards melancholy.
To those of you who are suffering or have suffered from anxiety, depression, or any mentally related illness, I would like to dedicate this piece to you. Especially for people of color who have often had their humanity denied and health care ignored due to the oppressive nature of our country and health care system. You deserve to be better.