Aphantasia and my artistic process

So I have been silent lately, moved into the new house (At least I own this one!), disruptions to routine, same old crap. Mostly comes down to whatever I am perseverating on at the moment, which tends to block out anything and everything else going on, makes me horrendously unreliable, which is why I seldom ever promise or commit to anything.

That said,  I now have my own art studio space with the new house and have been spending a tremendous amount of time in there…mostly playing around with acrylics on canvas (I have texture issues with oils getting on my hands, drives me nuts).  I have traditionally focused on colored pencils, pen and ink, etc.  But I came across something interesting about the artist Grandma Moses, how she got into painting as a result of arthritis and decided to give it a try since my hands cramp horribly trying to do drawings. And wow, painting is so much easier on me, and I get to do really satisfying things like fill syringes with paint, smack the plunger, make huge spats, even whipped a canvas with 20 lb test fishing line dipped in paint (the one shown), and pretty much any other crazy idea that comes into my head, which is just lovely.  That and based on my super long blog posts, I am really beginning to realize I might better communicate my thoughts via a visual medium than 4k+ words.

So, as an aphantasiac autistic individual I have a lot of barriers in regards to traditional fine art.  And frankly I am glad, I hate being “normal”, such a foreign concept to me, I do like the concept of outsider or Art brut though quite a bit.  Now, some youtube videos on aphantasia have focused on lack of “imagination” and one even said you would be unable to sculpt because you could not imagine the outcome.  It really shows how biased we are to our own cognitive and sensory process. I would think that if you are an artist and visualizing is critical to your process, not being able to do that seems foreign, even impossible…it should be foreign it is a different mode of thinking, but certainly not impossible.

So how have I been creating art?  Like when I do a math problem, I have to do the work in front of me, I have no inner template to go from, I may have conceptualized an idea (though usually those are the worst paintings for me by far) but for the most part I build up something on the canvas until, like a Rorschach test, I begin to see something form in front of me, and then I can guide that process.  When I finish a painting, I am seeing it for the first time, and it is amazing, because it informs me about myself in ways I otherwise could not fathom.

Now how do I guide this process from the start? I often have something eating at me, often socio-economic, social sciences, or political in nature.  For example the featured image is called “Refugee in Hijab” because I can see again the cycle of fear and demeaning that becomes self-fulfilling prophecy in full swing again, so many scared primate minds creating the conditions to make that which they are afraid of, unable to see the connections and correlations between there actions and the end result. These mood and thoughts influence how my brain is interpreting the image forming before me, so what I am thinking or worrying about influences how I guide the end product.  Such a fascinating process really. I often complain about how my conscious and sub/unconscious mind do not seem to communicate well and see eye to eye.  I have even denigrated my desire to do art in earlier blog posts, but the reality is, I am beginning to find more value in it, to get past my aphantasiac tendency to just define my existence through words.

So will I ever learn to doing realistic art? Not likely, could I? To a degree, I could learn to do still lifes and landscapes, draw what I see and translate it to an image on canvas.  But I am not interested in these things, they do not hold new thoughts, ideas, or inform me about the world or myself in interesting ways.  I want my art to be interesting, cognitive, maybe occasionally political or teach a lesson when possible, but over all I want people to wonder what the heck was going through my mind when I made that painting…because that is exactly what I am doing too!  Looking at the art that helps me get insight into myself, helps others get insight into me, and since as someone on the spectrum, even after studying social science so extensively, I still struggle to connect with people in a way I feel is meaningful. Sure I can meet others halfway, do the small talk, which can be important and validating to many, but for me? It has little value, I am investing my energy into helping someone else feel well, and still leaving myself out like an alien on the sidelines.  So my artistic process is an exploration of communication with myself and interpersonal communication, we shall see how this goes.  On the upside, with canvases hung all over my house now, out of sight, out of mind is much less of an issue!

Able-ism at the YMCA…a brief Rant and perspective

Alright, I am going to diverge from my normal blogs to tackle the prevailing issues and images of able-ism in society.

Able-ism @ the YMCA

Able-ism @ the YMCA

First, I am going to state this loud and clear…the intent of this image is not to cause harm, I understand that this is supposed to be supportive and for folks who take things at face value and do not read into the subtext would not see this as disrespectful or harmful in anyway.  It is not “bad” people who do this, in fact it is the very opposite, very well intentioned people create these things in an attempt to show solidarity and compassion for folks who are disabled, in this particular case physically disabled.

Now, I have used a cane for going on 13 years, and I have been forced to live a life where the perception of infirmity by society writ large becomes my defining characteristic. Let us not even go into what happens when I self-advocate as someone with an autism spectrum disorder.  The problem is, these images reduce us to the perceived physical impairment as somehow needing more assistance, and certainly in a few situations accommodations are needed, but when they take front stage over a healthy sense of identity and self-determination, it reduces us to nothing more than the perception of our infirmities.

Why did this image upset me so much though? I see examples of able-ism all the time. The chosen caption is what makes this image so offensive to those of us with physical disabilities.  The word “Responsibility” as defined by Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/responsibility) includes two pertinent uses of the word, that of being morally obligated and that of being bound by duty.  So, in short something one is forced to do as a result of societal expectations versus assisting someone, ANYONE, simply because it is the right and moral thing to do.  Now, the intent in this case could simply be that the individual is responsible for assisting, heck even responsible for allowing self-determination, but one cannot infer these things from a simple one word example.  Denotative definition aside, we then have to look at the connotative meaning of the word, which sadly becomes synonymous with obligation and even being burdened by having to do so.  So in classic correlative over-thinking, one can then interpret this as a burden to assist the individual.  Not the intent I am quite certain, I believe this was done with the utmost compassion.  But it is still offensive none the less, it puts the focus on the disability and then puts the burden on those who are able bodied to take care of or assist the disabled individual in a paternalistic fashion.  If I was to apply basic research ethics to this image ala the Belmont Report (See it Here) this is an example of something that fails the harm/benefit analysis, because it unintentionally singles out a population and has the potential to cause harm, in this case, emotional and social. Yeah I know, all touchy feely, be a man a grow a pair right? Wrong, see it is the small details that reinforced stereotypes, that feed into the social model for disability, and continue to define individuals by what others perceive in object reality but is than subjectively categorized into a paternalistic worldview.

No one should be forced to feel responsible for someone’s physical challenges, and quite frankly I am offended when I hear parents shush their children to not point out my physical disability, it is there, it is obvious, and the children simply want answers.  Instead of telling them not to stare, which reinforces our difference and sets us apart as “other”, we should be able to inquire, show general interest and de-mystify the perceived disabilities in a healthy manner that lets us move on to other more important things, an able bodied person’s attempt to shield us from something we deal with everyday just seems asinine.  Quite frankly I don’t have the time or interest in having to constantly pander to ableist guilt, much like white guilt in race relations, we need to move past the guilt if we hope to have a healthy and meaningful conversation on the subject.

So in summation, images and captions, like anything written loses the intended context too easily because of how everyone subjectively processing the information, what seems beneficent to one is harmful to another, and ethically we need to move past this. In this case, I sincerely hope the YMCA not only removes and replaces this, but takes it not as me attacking them, but as a teachable moment on how we unintentionally cause harm.  Yelling, screaming, and attacking the people who are attempting to do “good” just alienates them, it is not able-splanning to point out the intentions are good, good people do harmful things, the ole quote “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” applies quite readily.  But I refuse to attack people who are attempting to be decent people, that just alienates and draws lines in the sand, and defensive people cannot communicate effectively.  But we should point out these things when we see them, we should do so with compassion and understanding though, we need to educate not alienate.

Getting at my inherent brain wiring

So, I have spent a lot of time of late thinking about…thinking, pretty much my favorite past time when I am not engaging in avoidance behaviors so that time will just tick by and leave me alone. Recently went over an older post by #musingsofanaspie and it got my brain going again on the question of empathy which I have addressed and speculated on before.  That question being, am I empathetic and is my ability to easily read people natural to me or is it learned?

Well, I think I was asking the question partially wrong, I am naturally cognitively empathetic, that means I can use my intelligence to relate to folks feelings and circumstances. This connects back to my writings on being compassionate writ large, or a good choice of word here would be sympathetic.  So, i am a very compassionate and sympathetic human being, but I am not particularly high empathy in regards to affective empathy.  I feel sympathy pains for people, but that is synesthesia, I read that someone is in pain and as someone compassionate I want to help, but I do not feel with the depth others do in such regards, my rationality means the depths of my reaction is limited.  Which, makes me a decent person to come to with problems if you want a good ear and solutions, I have found a balance there, I may not feel that pain or joy with the same depth, but I am able to cognitively relate to it. This is quite probably tied into my tendency to provide personal experiences which may come across as egocentric as a way of demonstrating my ability to …well empathize.  For good or ill, I have had a host of horrible and traumatic experiences in my life, loss, suffering, physical pain, I have drank deeply from the well, and as a result of this, I have the personal experience to bounce my cognitive empathy off and thus, I am able to create a kindly and compassionate demeanor that Neurotypicals don’t find offensive or alien.  But…it was not natural, not part of my inherent wiring, so in short, I have issues with empathy, but we need to stop confusing that with folks not having any feelings at all, I am not a psycho or sociopath, I just respond to these things differently, a bit distant, but still able to sympathize, and frankly, I consider that a blessing, a bit of both worlds, since I have had to straddle that for my entire life.

What else about my inherent brain wiring? Well, I am literal, a very literally minded person, but I have been able to intellectually and cognitively get around that.  For example, I know when I am tired or stressed, I should avoid posting on facebook, I miss subtext at those points and thus find myself getting into trouble or causing a bit of drama.  Now, I still like to tear things apart from the literal perspective, why I dislike so many generalizations and also makes me the natural skeptic I am.  But, I also had to move away from that, how does one cover up for a natural tendency to be literal, the literal interpretation of things still comes to me first, my inherent wiring dictates that. But like so many other things in my life, I found a work around, and those who know me personally would be able to see and understand the cornerstone of my sense of humor, not coincidentally very much like Maine humorists in general (where I live most of my childhood and teen years).  So I make jokes based on the literal interpretation of things, for example my wife says “I’m taking a shower”, my response is frequently “Oh yeah? Where are you taking it too, seems a bit heavy” or something along those lines.  My brain takes it literal, I then filter it and put it out as a form of joke instead, and oddly enough I almost have too, if I don’t speak these things out loud, that bounce around inside my head, it connects back to me mumbling and talking out loud, it is not just conversation for the sake of conversation, it is a powerful tool for me to process data and move on.

What else about my inherent wiring then? From the Meyers-Briggs, it has been well stated before that I am an INTP, and I will re-iterate that I do not see this as some form of biological determinism, just a useful tool that folks can look up and get an approximation of my personality, so I am guilty of using folks as sounding boards, always. As a matter of fact, I fail to thrive when I do not have access to good sounding boards, and so lately I am having some issues between avoiding social pressures and stimuli, which reduces meltdowns, but without my sounding boards my mind feels sluggish, I need that witty bit of conflict to force me to double check my thinking and get new perspectives, new data, and new questions, and I love questions more than anything else in this world, I am after all a creature of extreme curiosity.

So, I have sensory processing issues, a complex relationship with empathy and other people, I am literal but not rigidly black and white, instead I am an extreme grey person, or as I like to think the world is not grey at all, but full of colors and vibrancy.  It is hard for me to focus my energies, because my interests are so expansive and my mind wants to learn it all, know it all, so I am scattered and unfocused, and this frustrates me to no end.  And I am still failing to do what I wish, I cannot function in too much structure with too many asinine social rituals, but at the same time, left to my own devices I cannot focus and get things done, how strange it is to realize how much I am a product of the environment I am in.   But the more I learn about my inherent way of thinking and then the creative workarounds I have developed over the years, the closer I come to being able to cultivate the right environment to maximize my potential productivity.  So I am still torn, I have greatly mixed feelings on pursuing a PhD and trying to fight my way into academia, I suppose I could contemplate work for a think tank, but the ideologically driven nature of many of them would likewise not be particularly fulfilling to me.  But I still need to be productive, it is an imperative to me, a constant pressure that leads to depression and self loathing when I cannot get things done that I know I am capable of, I just don’t have enough structure for someone with my inherent brain wiring, and that ties back to my last post about feeling like being only half a person.  I suppose we shall see what comes in the future, but I cannot continue on my current course, it is eating away at me and that leads to meltdowns, and I loathe having meltdowns.

Why I fail at being an individual…. (Semi-rant)

So the title makes this sound extra dire, but it is not really, just part of the reality that is me.  Folks will notice that my amount of writing has dropped substantially, this is not just weather and cold making me have issues focusing, it has a direct correlation to no longer going to see a therapist.   Now why is that? Well actually it is quite simple, I cannot maintain momentum of thought on my own, in a way I am half an individual instead of a full one, my intellect for all of it’s potential is unable to be applied on my own, I have to be in a proper environment.  So, without a weekly chance to have a sounding board, talk about interesting things, and thus get my gears grinding, I instead sink down into indolence, wasting my time letting the days and hours tick past because I cannot focus my own intellect in worthwhile endeavors.  See, I can’t thrive just off books, or youtube videos, or even forum discussions. I hate the written word and one sided information, I desire debate and conversation, yet the days of the coffee shop filled with eager young minds are mostly behind us, certainly in my area.  Instead it is folks plugged into their computers and social networks and the groups of eager minds in my area are mostly the Free Staters, so consumed with their sense of purpose and anger at the injustice they perceive everywhere, that they ruin their own message with feeble attempts to gain publicity, and hanging out with angry self-defeatists I have done plenty of in my life time and I have no practical use for them.  So, I tried to dive into MMO’s again and gaming, and still there I see so many damaged individuals getting their kicks off trolling, griefing, and bullying.  Bullying is everywhere these days, harsh judgement and the dehumanizing of others, on the internet of course it is particularly easy as there is far less accountability for one’s actions, and the veil of anonymity helps hide the person.  But it does not hide the damage, it does not hide how our society has been so focused on the alpha get it all extroverted individualism, that basic human empathy and understanding has been sacrificed upon the altar of a warped perception of what makes us in the US “exceptional”.  I have no place in this world, the anger and ire, judgement and general douche-baggery of it all, I find it abhorrent, and yet I am supposed to function within it. Somehow, I still care what happens to our species, when the vast amount of our species cares shockingly little for those outside of their in-group. Now, that is not universal, there are great many folks who devote themselves to great causes and helping others, but it is a small percentage compared to the culturally programmed robots who go about their days doing just as the dominant social paradigm dictates and so grounded in the hear and now, that their ability to see the big picture and empathize with others is reduced to a small scale, so willing to have their small transitory creature comforts built on the blood on innocents through out the world.  And in all of this, I fail. See, I will most likely never write the book I have thought about, not enough data, and I have already pieced it all together, so now it bores me…yes, bores me.  I have decimated the MBTI, I have put human context into an equation, and yet I will do nothing with it.  I have talked about economics, about attacking the underlying major contributors to mental illness and criminality, pointed out how we use bullying in our day to day endeavors as means of getting what marketing has programmed us to want.  Our hijacked sense of self identity, carefully crafted using modern science and tried and true propaganda, we are taking such a short sighted approach to existence.  And for all my ability to see the patterns, to test the veracity of my logic, I am stuck, the tortured would be philosopher, the grand thinker who cannot get his thoughts out.  And thus, I am but half a functional human being, and given my criticisms and friends who are actively in academia, I would not likely ever be allowed to set foot in such hallowed halls, as thinking outside the box and pointing out such things are not desired by most institutions, and the competition for those that are more daring is fierce. On top of it, I lack the “credentials” since I chafe at the traditional system, one must memorize names, dates, and theories to an extreme to prove that one has the intellect to be an academic, the rule of rote learning has proverbially lobotomized our institutions of higher learning in favor of creating educated laborer’s instead of true innovators and thinkers.  The modern group think even ponders if the world needs genius, well unless such genius is in something quantifiable, such as mathematics, we cannot even answer that question, so many brilliant minds, genius or just near, will never make it into the modern academic world to share their unique insights and perspectives. GRE’s, grades, endorsements, the financial means, all these things layer and layer hoops too winnow down applicants, and as a result, inherently limit the kinds of intellects who make it that far.  But there are so many other ways of being, ways of thinking that add to our cumulative knowledge as a species, but many of us, just simply will not find a place in the current world paradigm. Many are less defective than I am, me, I am just a sounding board who connects patterns, and as such useless to furthering human endeavor myself without some direction or purpose.  Given that many of the places I might stand a chance of getting a foot in the door are urban environments where the barrage of sensory data overwhelms me, I find myself stuck, isolated, and contained.  I am unsure of how I will progress from here, an intellect with no outlet, I dream of being lobotomized myself, to be tucked back into “The Matrix” and carry on in ignorance, for then I could endeavor in some small manner that has meaning.  I have no followers, no acolytes, no audience or friends with whom to share the constant barrage of my thoughts, and I still refuse to mask it all in psuedoscience and chicanery, I will not become some New Age guru, or cult leader, or a host of other things my skill sets would allow for, my integrity is not for sale, and I will lie down starving in a ditch before I do so.  We need more people of principle, not folks just trying to survive in an economy stacked against them, we need to evolve our understanding of the human condition, neurological variations, and the value in folks who are different.  But right now, though I see clearly some paths to improving such things, I cannot get it done, I do not have the energy or the focus to do so, and this small blog is all I have to share my meager thoughts with the world, to a limited audience, with no tangible gain.  This is the fate of being half a functional person, constantly distracted, ever seeking to assimilate more and more knowledge, and never being able to stop long enough to properly share all that I learn.

A (not so) short blurb on being genuine and normalizing harmless behaviors

So, I have been reading a lot of autism advocacy related stuff today, many of the points I support, sometimes the delivery seems counter productive, but by and large it is well done, and the intent is absolutely what needs to be said.  In essence a great deal of it comes back to needing to expand the dominant paradigm, normalize behaviors that folks fear or worry about out of ignorance, understand that nurture is ever so important.  I mean seriously, when you read some of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum, mental illness is so common in the population that it is believed and accepted to be a normal part of being on the spectrum.  It really is not the case, it is the hijacking of a healthy sense of self identity from being labeled, demeaned, bullied, and often abused because one happens to think and interact with the world differently.  Those of us who are verbose and extremely verbal can often pass un-noticed, but the cost can be substantial as we keep forcing ourselves to act in appropriate manners, suppressing very natural tendencies that are in fact…harmless.  Yes, we need to learn a few rules of etiquette, just like everyone else does, understanding of personal space and personal property are important concepts, but when the kid messes it up, the last thing they need is to be insulted, demeaned, or yelled at.  Violent words or violent physical acts are expedient, and in our time obsessed society expedience often trumps healthy nurturing techniques.  Even I slip up sometimes with my daughter, when I am stressed or overwhelmed myself, I can be short, because I can see the eyes looking, I have spent my life fearing the judgment of others, but  I work hard to be my genuine self everyday. I am also getting better at not being reactionary with my daughter as a result of working to be more at ease with myself. An example of being more genuine occurred today; I went shopping for a few things, instead of pulling down my hoodie, taking my hands out of my pockets where I am fiddling with things, and removing my sunglasses, I kept them on.  I kept them on because even though I dislike people judging and making assumptions, I cannot prevent their ignorance, but I can keep myself from being over-stimulated by doing things that are in fact, in my best interest. And I have heard the dominant assumptions many times before, folks who have something to hide, or are on drugs, etc. When in many cases, it has nothing to do with any of those things. But the dominant paradigm favors assumptions based on what they perceive in object reality, filtered through a ignorant worldview…and once again that is not an insult, and it is why it is imperative we expand the dominant paradigm to stop judging what they don’t understand, by educating them on both the reality of folks on spectrum, or a host of other social issues based on assumptions, and by working to normalize these things so they are not strange, frightening, etc.

I have seen so much speculation on “why are we seeing more ASD diagnosis”, part of that is the diagnostic criteria of course and a increased understanding of these things.  But, we also live in a world that is far more stimulating and overwhelming than anytime in human history, our very use of public space is inherently harmful to many on the spectrum who struggle with hyper-sensory issues. You add in a healthy dose of rigid thinking that fails to recognize certain behaviors as being something far different than what they assume they are seeing, and you have huge levels of frustration.  It is why I do not lie to my daughter, lies have been so damaging to me, being demeaned and bullied for being simply curious, when folks assume some nefarious purpose.  I recall as a child I was at my friends house, they were very welcoming over all, a nice Mormon family.  I was in the hallway staring off into space and their eldest daughter, who was two years younger than me had her door open, and apparently she was getting changed…whatever, I was not remotely a sexual being then, even though this was around the time another peer had started abusing me.  I don’t even think I was particularly looking at her, I was waiting for my friend Sean to get something.  Well, his mother, normally very accommodating, let me know in no uncertain terms she thought I was being inappropriate, and I made the situation worse by countering with my matter of fact answer “what? I have sisters too, not like this is anything new” I paraphrase of course.  Well, she did not take kindly to that, scolded me, and because I was so angry, embarrassed and frustrated that she assumed I being deviant or doing something wrong, I promptly started bashing my head into the wall.  I did that a lot as a child, but it was rooted in anger, embarrassment, and frustration, when people judged me and made assumptions, it not only frustrated me because they clearly did not understand what they were seeing, it made me feel deviant, bad, that there was something grossly wrong with me.  See, some of the “social” issues are related to mirror neuron function and missing cues, but plenty of them are because the dominant social paradigm is itself ignorant, they see something and thus they “know” what is going on, without ever asking, without ever wondering about how folks can think so very differently. I am logical, I am rational, I am curious, to the point that when denied knowledge I would try to find ways to seek it out.

Another example…feminine hygiene products, these things baffled me.  My mother will tell you that on my 11th birthday the first thing out of my mouth that day was “what are tampons used for?”, I had been asking for YEARS, because…I was curious, nothing more, nothing less. As a matter of fact, for a long time I thought I was deviant because I even stole a few maxi pads and wore them for a few days, but at that age, as I look back, I understand now, that kid who I once was, who was so long ago beaten into submission, was once again, just curious, and they had a pleasant light fragrance that I enjoyed, a baby powder scent.  I was not some sexual deviant, I was not gay, I was not even experiencing gender issues in that particular event, I was freaking curious.

Curiosity still defines me, it drives me to try and learn so much about everything around me, I may be bad with names and dates, things that can inhibit testing for many, I happened to develop some generalized ideas of era and chronology so I could normally get the numbers and answers off the tests, but when I fail to produce these things folks assume I do not “know” something, but I know a tremendous amount of data on so many subjects that most folks I know have at many points called me the “smartest” person they know.  I am not of course, I am just an information sponge with a few perceived disabilities, but honestly it is what people say and how they act that defines them, not some name given to them at birth.  Interestingly enough, in the world of online gaming, I tend to remember people’s handles quite readily, because they pick names that define them, it is an extension of who they perceive themselves to be or an image they want people to believe, and it is much more real to me than the name on their birth certificate, it informs me about who they are in a way a normal birth name never will, save for maybe details on cultural or ethnic background, which I find mostly unimportant as I respect people of all origins and backgrounds, it is mildly insightful if they have an accent and show some cultural traits related to it, otherwise it is just a holdover from immigrant ancestors.

So many of these behaviors, like swaying or head rubbing, are harmless. It is when the dominant paradigm makes judgments and hasty assessments based on a lack of knowledge and understanding that harm, demeaning, and even trauma ensues.  It is the failure to understand that for some people, these behaviors are perfectly natural, they are not nefarious, they are not perverse, they are not deviant, they are curious, or they are spacing out and not doing anything related to what they assumed.  I cannot count how many times I was chastised for failing to show respect, not because I would not have naturally wanted too, but because I was lost in my head, the ole “head in the clouds”, thinking, questioning, pondering. So in a way, my very intellect began to be harmful to me, I was not always free to think in a way that was natural to me, to learn in a way that is natural to me.  And somehow this defines me within the dominant paradigm, it is deficiency, disability, when it is none of those things.  Yes, some of the spectrum have severe quality of life issues, but we still denigrate, infantilize, or inhibit even their healthy sense of self identity, by labeling them as low IQ, or “non-verbal for life” and thus insisting upon only teaching them “life skills”, when that is one area they won’t flourish in, so stop wasting energy on the Band-aid approach and find their gifts, their joy, their healthy sense of identity. And maybe they will never hold down a job, but that does not mean they are without worth, basing someone’s entire worth on employability is myopic and limited in perspective, we need our difference, it pushes us forward.  Stop trying to re-write every bit of our genetic code with labels of deficiency, instead we need to understand how out of balance society is, and in the extreme cases, then and only then do we correct the genetic damage if the technology is available, but don’t cull the entire autism spectrum genes from the species, that is paternalistic eugenics, embrace neurodiversity, target only the severe and truly crippling genetic damage, and otherwise, make space for us, take the time to understand us, and for all those holding to rigid ideology in their “Christian nation”, listen to Christ, stop judging, after all, I have found plenty of room to forgive those who caused me harm, because I understand the patterns that have resulted in allowing people having things so very wrong.  And if the demeaned can forgive those that demean, then it is not much to ask, that those who are in the dominant position take a few moments to understand us, get past ignorance and fear, so that all us, through our own endeavors, in the myriad ways they occur, can contribute to the collective well-being and knowledge of our species, to ensure a better and brighter future for all, instead of just those currently favored as well adapted by whatever the dominant paradigm in that particular culture or nation is.  Let us be curious, let us comfort ourselves, let us be ok with who we are instead of saying we are defective, and watch as the frustration lessens, as meltdowns become less frequent, when folks listen with open ears and minds and hearts.

Chaos, morality, Christianity, difference, and part of my world view.

This is almost pure moral philosophy, my philosophy, some will take offense, some with think I am way off base, but for all who dare to read further, there is truth in this, maybe not your truth, but mine, so I take this chance to make public a few thoughts on Religion I have kept close to my chest, it is not an attack, it is an attempt to illuminate.  It also includes some of the very chaotic nature of how I think, and thus has some academic value for those who wonder about such things.

My mind has been exceptionally chaotic of late, I have wanted to write so many things but cannot maintain the focus I want, I am stressed and overwhelmed as usual, unable to sequester myself away from the myriad of distractions in my world. My mind is ever seeking more and more knowledge to prove what I have already hashed out as a worldview.  I worry I am re-inventing the wheel, or that I will offend, or a host of other things.  My mind is chaos, by it’s inherent nature, where one person may see one clear path or a very discernible paths, I see a multitude that is so overwhelming, I cannot shut out the voices of individuals, I try to hear and listen to them all, in this the internet is not proving to be my friend. I am trying to stop, trying to spend less time learning and adding to my extensive body of knowledge and instead put together a world view, an ideal, my interpretation of massive patterns of human thoughts, fears, and difference into a manageable form, and I am not sure I can.  My mind does not prioritize well at all, unless something becomes an immediate concern in the here and now, it will go beneath notice, I am a truly cerebral being to such an extreme I fail to even take proper care of myself at times save for forcing it into ritualized behavior.  This mind craves structure though, which is why it is so easy to imprint another perspective onto my own conscious thought patterns, where a book or movie I watch can alter the very cadence and tenor of my thoughts, because I am unable to do so on my own.

In regards to autism, I have wondered why I have been so hesitant to not simply lump myself in with say Asperger’s, besides the mirror neuron function which is so common, because I am not high functioning at all. To even get this blog as messy as it is required a shocking amount of hand holding from my wife, I cannot focus enough to translate my thoughts into action well at all, and the constant bombardment of stimuli makes it all the worse.  I understand now the pull and desire to be a hermit, but I do not wish to cut myself off from the world, but I cannot sanely remain mired but feeling ever impotent at the same time.  My daughter is both a source of great joy and extreme distress for me, a conundrum in a small package, a beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, and sadly hyper sensory child, who is precious to me beyond words, and it is for the children today and ones yet to be born I feel so compelled to define humanity’s context, to demonstrate as clearly as possible just how wrong we have been, how cultural detritus and a failure to understand inherent and fundamental difference continues to create societies filled with haves and have nots.

It comes down to healthy self identity, and for me, that may be forever out of my grasp, but I know one thing, I am special, special needs but a special view point as well.  The same ability that allows me to act, to imprint another’s thought patterns onto my own is the same ability that allows me to empathize with anyone, no matter how horrid, no matter how damaged, I can put on any pair of shoes and walk in them for awhile.  And this is an ability that is both crippling and valuable, that of the tortured soul seeking to stop the insanity and cycle of demeaning difference and harm, that seeks to speak out about how no one worldview as it stands is even close to ideal, because there is too much difference inherent in our brain’s wiring, let alone the differences of culture and society for folks to grasp it easily.  When you are part of the dominant paradigm the universe makes sense too you, but a safe sensible universe for some is phenomenologically speaking  impossible, a confounding and confusing hell.  The ABCD approach to life and credentialing seems so sensible for so many, but for people like me it is insurmountable, the never ceasing questioning of a mind that must get to the underlying functions, I am so tired of seeing so much human endeavor wasted throwing itself insanely at the symptoms and not even looking for the subtext, the underlying cause, why do we see these patterns repeat, why do individuals and cultures and nations rise and then inevitably fall, we have missed something, and that something is being made clearer every day through science and understanding, but that does not mean spirituality and faith must be sacrificed upon the alter of science, some aspects are being proven false, whatever form a supreme being may take, there are rules and laws found in object reality, the possible and impossible as far as our limited comprehension goes, to even attempt to qualify or quantify such a nature is an act of hubris.We cannot understand truly that which we have no context for, it is like shooting darts in the dark hoping something hits the target and sticks.  Some feel individuals channel the divine, that prophets have an open communication pathway with the divine, but there is no solid evidence of such, often it flies in the face of logic.  I often think of Paul/Saul, logically speaking alone there was no need for a prophet after Christ, I see him not as anything divine, but an earnest mind trying to understand the teachings of someone he never met, and he translated it well to the needs of his culture at the time, with the best of his understanding, but so much harm as come from it as well. I see more quotes of the Old Testament and Corinthians than the true words of Christ, Christ who found disciples from various walks of life, who interpreted his words in different ways based on their understanding of him, but we excluded 2/3 of those different voices when the Bible was put together, we muzzled difference in exchange for a more black and white and simple understanding, the Gnostic texts show differences, but so does the Bible.  Did Judas hang himself or did his guts spill out upon the ground? Biblical literalism certainly does not hold up under such scrutiny, but the different disciples had different perspectives and it is through the understanding of all we have some notion of the mind of Jesus.  When you silence some in favor of another you lose context, you disregard some voices because they may not have thought in accord with the belief system you have, and what a shame that is.  Let me state this now, I am a pattern thinker, I personally perceive Christ in terms of a man seeking understanding much akin to me, if I did not triangulate my logic and the correlations I see in my patterns, this is how one would end up with someone who has a Christ complex, but I see it as a specific part of the minds hardwiring, certain minds cannot stand the pain and trauma in the world, they cannot carry that burden alone but for some reason we continue to try, like any one individual could have all the answers, absolve the world of perceived sins, while tackling the real demons and real sins of false knowledge and ignorance, the demeaning of difference instead of at least trying to understand just how different one human can think to another. We must expand our understanding, we must make room, even if you do fundamentally disagree, if there cannot be an accord on some matters, than maximum self determination and arguments based on principle are the answer, not demeaning, or attacking.  I used to read the Daily KOS frequently, but I see it as demeaning as more conservative media, it calls folks who think different idiots and uses fear mongering as much as the right to get their point across, instead of trying to understand why we think so different, why somethings threaten one group but not another, and we cannot get passed that without communicating that difference, without understanding how the animal mind is alive and well living in tandem with our conscious mind, that we all have a little bit of fate tied directly to how we think and understand the world around us.

I wish at times I could stop caring, use my gifts to ensure the thriving of my family and the rest of the world be damned, but that is so against my fundamental nature, and that is something many should be thankful for, I do not lie when I say I can conceive of myself breaking bad, in a horrible manner, someone like me who succumbs to the damaged and scared animal part of their mind can do untold damage to others, though it is lost in my writing because I always provide too much context, I know it is well within my power to utilize my face to face charisma for poor ends, to take the truth as I understand it, which is not everyone else’s truth, and abuse it for my own gain. But I refuse, much like I sucked at sales, because I refused to manipulate folks into spending their limited income on things I knew would not live up to expectations, fulfill them, or add greater meaning to their life.  I do not like lies, I do not like lies of omission, I do not see myself as a predator taking what I want from the world without repercussion, because I see children in adult bodies, damaged, scarred, scared, and demeaned, I see the repercussions of all my actions constantly, ever single choice I make, even the small ones not anchored in ritual as having the potential to do both great harm as well as be beneficial.  This again talks to the chaos of my mind, ever branching probability and options, a world of color and patterns, a world filled with joy as well as trauma, we must expand our understanding of difference, it is a moral imperative to stop demeaning and start understanding, the dominant paradigm will not remain the dominant forever, it will be over turned at some point and replaced, and in this culture of bullying in the US right now, were we speak words of sophistry but fail to truly communicate we are in danger of fracturing, of turning upon ourselves, because we lack the understanding to reach out and communicate. We label one side or the other as evil, and thus believe we are good, false dichotomy.  We must move beyond, seek morality and fight against amorality and succor the immoral so they can see and understand the harm done to them and thus transferred via cultural meme like a virus to others.  The spirit of the Sanhedrin is alive and well and even flourishing right now, but instead of trying to divest them of power, we must learn to share it.

I need translators, I am sure I am missing huge points of my worldview here, it is expansive, such a large pattern, but the underlying causes are there…stop fighting the symptoms, and start finding the underlying cause, and for much of that, it lies in the failure to understand the difference that drives us forward but currently often drives us apart, and that is a human tragedy writ large.  I yearn for the days of Old Toledo Spain, when Muslim, Jew, and Christians worked side by side trying to understand the universe as well as each other, and there are so many more voices than that, so many faiths and world views. Once upon a time, like many, I viewed religion as a source of great evil in the world, but religion itself is inherently neither, there are atheist traditions that have also caused great harm, it is rigid ideology that cannot make room for difference that is the root cause, it is the failure to expand understanding even when it is frightening, to play it safe, to enclave, to avoid that which you cannot understand or comprehend that is the great failure of all cultures and ideologies up to this point, as I have stated before some have done better than others, but in the modern world those who are maladaptive suffer, or become scapegoats, or who pay for privilege hoisted upon them by external powers in the form of market dominant minorities a la Amy Chua. No one path leads all folks to the same end point, we need different paths for different minds, we must expand, we must grow, and we must nurture that difference, for within this diversity is the key to not just our success, but the survival our species, it is in short a moral imperative that we get this right.

Ahhh…Regression caught in my blog

Been a few days since I posted, The national day of mourning/Thanksgiving or however you relate to that day has come and gone, hopefully folks found the time to do more than just eat and shop, but to connect or relax, or anything else that just helped break up the monotony of daily life.   During this time, I have been enjoying and laughing at how some of my blog posts have actively caught me in a regressive state.  Not sure how I missed that, funny how one can readily identify some things externally, but in one’s own internal world, totally miss the obvious.  On the upside, one can read through some posts and see this at work, and there is value in this to someone I imagine, and that is good.  Thankfully, being embarrassed by such things is not really in my nature any more, when one has frequent emotional outbursts throughout their own life and has stood in front of a class of 6th graders and taught, well embarrassment becomes a liability and the healthy approach is to learn to roll with the punches.

So recently, this whole regressive state culminated is a very very nasty verbal tirade via Facebook to my father.  It was definitely written to cause pain, to unleash upon him the anger and frustration, fear and self loathing, and a host of other things.  I feel terrible for the words, I do not feel terrible that I unloaded on him though, because I had in fact stopped communicating, and the result was a very unambiguous wounded child response that was still an attempt to communicate.  And as a result of this, my father, who I have tried to emulate throughout my adult life, when i failed at X I would ask myself what would my father do, and then I did it, at a much more accelerated rate, he was my road map when things fell apart, and though that road map was never one inherently designed for me, it proved adequate for a time, even if I still failed to thrive, failed to hold down a steady job that did not have a threat of repercussion held over my head (thus why I did well in the USAF, but pretty much bombed everywhere else).  But even then, I was overwhelmed and just did not understand what was happening.  Anyhow, I digress again, my father and I are now actively communicating in a way we have not …ever done.  He has been looking back at things done right and things done wrong, because there was never any malicious intent here.  Sometimes when I get writing fast I compress things together, and I realize that it may not always paint my family in a positive light.  But, my family did their best with the information they had, they did not stop trying actually, sadly I did, I clammed up and stopped communicating, just because I am highly verbal and can make use of words from an external point of assessment, does not mean I ever properly utilized that skill set as a means of authentic communication, instead it became a defense mechanism, a means of showing my intellect through verbosity, and a host of other things.  I have a long and troubled history with words and language, I continue to find it inadequate based on how it is chained down by social norms and conventions and how deviation from preferred speech patterns brings more of the one thing that constantly holds me back, fear of judgment.

I am hoping something far more beneficial will come out of this, my Father is keeping track of our emails in a computer program, making sure he stays on top of things, I find that fascinating, and potentially useful.  Our trials as a Father and Son could be useful at some point in the future, maybe a collaborative effort (just speculation, not signing my Father up for something like that) between the two of us could produce truly beneficial relationship advice for other families who struggle with such things.

Sometimes, when I hit rock bottom, I decide to fight, and sometimes it turns out that what I am attacking is what I am actually fighting for, in this case a better relationship with a man who I have such a complex relationship with, and until recently never even let him know.  So this blog is for him, I love you Dad, sorry for continuing to put you through the wringer, but I have faith that the results will be worth it, and maybe it is a decent first step in helping a family heal.