Tug-of-War comes to mind as a brief but dynamic description for the fundamental “state” of being me. By fundamental, I mean that it has always been that way. I live in a strange “no man’s land” between very big landscapes and intimate detail; between “pictures” that make perfect sense and words which are meant to confuse, obscure, manipulate and dominate; to inform, to educate, but words don’t do any of this well unless the “user of the tool” has learned how to use language. Few people today are “trained” to use language adequately; children are urged to be “creative” without concurrently learning to use the verbal and visual tools of creative work and to acquire skills of discrimination that allow for expression. (Having something to say is utterly ignored.)
Accidental appeal is a component of the arts; does your image “fit on a T-shirt?” may be the ultimate artistic question in social communication. Emoticons and acronyms are about as dumbed-down as language can get. Not that the people using them are “dumb”; it’s the digital format that is dumb. It encourages copying of both “languages and images” – not interpretive, expanded or sophisticated copying as has always been a fundamental “artistic” means of transferring cultural information, but direct duplication and repetition ad nauseum – puns; novelties, cartoon neoteny. Ideas? Memes are clichés that filled “Reader’s Digest” decades ago.
Tug-of-War isn’t accurate: that’s the problem with words: gross inaccuracy. The “big picture and the details” are pictures; images are so intimate. Maybe a better analogy would be satellite photos; big pictures that encode incredible detail. Zoom in: zoom out. It’s the mid-range, continental close-up – no edges visible, no shapes, no interfaces of land and water that may, after all, be fairly uninteresting. To become useful, “maps” are still constructed from satellite images. Is the “visual brain” – which seems to be common in many Aspergers, a “map-making” brain?
Like wordcraft, map-making used to be an art. Photography has replaced “art” – the belief that a photograph is a faithful representation of “reality” or what a person actually looks like, is cemented in place, but all art lies. Great art is stupendous at taking over the human perception of “reality” and seducing the brain and nervous system into experiencing a new dimension – the intangible mind of the artist. If art merely duplicated what we already see and know, it would have no value.
A tug-of-war after all? Within the domain of images, within visual thinking, within the visual brain: what one “sees” is a personal world that cannot be easily “translated” into conventional social communication. This “map” image says nothing at all about living here.
So – where is Asperger’s in this social universe created by man? How can it be observed and described, given the blunders inherent in human communication; in the gross over-generalizations of “social” language – an almost entirely inauthentic, dull and mind-numbing exercise in “echolalia” – repeat after me… Smile. Cheer up. Be positive. Look happy. Dress for success. Be sexy. Expect a miracle.
The land allows me to be me. Being Asperger is not the crazy mix of “symptoms” that are pin pricks on a tourist’s road map; it’s a total immersion experience.