Saturday, 2 April 2011

Basis for a Book

This blog is a window into my Aspie thought process in motion.  The concept for this blog came out of notes and brainstorms which I have been generating for a book tentatively titled 'Being Bahá'í on the Autistic Spectrum.'   One of the challenges I face in communicating my thoughts with neurotypical people is that my process of idea-generation is essentially non-linear.  My pattern of thought is associative and non-sequential. This is a blessing when I am called upon to generate ideas, but marshalling them into what would typically be considered a 'logical sequence' (at least according to Western canons of rhetoric) is like herding cats.  One of the challenges of writing a book is that the medium of print, and my desire to communicate with a predominantly neurotypical audience, imposes the necessity of marshalling my thoughts into standard sequences.  But sometimes I come up with an idea that fills me with such bursting excitement that the idea will not brook the patience to be marshalled into orderly sequence and syntax (a word that comes from the Greek 'syntattein', 'to line up soldiers') This blog is an attempt to look for the hidden capacity and opportunity in what would otherwise be considered a problem.

As my ideas come to me for the book I will post them and make them immediately available in the format of vignettes for the benefit of others.  Then, my aim is to sequence them in a coherent pattern for others. To my mind, communicating with neurotypical individuals is like learning a language with a radically different sentence order.  For example, English is a Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) language, whereas other languages arrange words in variant patterns.  Articulating my ideas in what would be considered a 'logical sequence' is very much like translating a passage from English in an OSV or SOV language - I am constantly cognisant of the need to rearrange and tweak ideas into a comprehensible order.

As unconventional as this thought pattern is, I think there are blessings within it.  One thing of which the critical field of discourse analysis reminds us that language can never fully approximate reality. To attempt to describe anything is itself an act of "squaring the circle". The implications of this are humbling - no speaker can ever be sure they have fully apprehended material reality, because they are seeing that reality through the framework and filter of their own language and its attendant structures.  To have a cohesive understanding of reality, we then need the viewpoints of others - and their variant gifts for apprehending reality.  It is my firm conviction that the thought patterns and manners of speaking of people on the autistic spectrum constitute a valid and needed perspective which can be offered to the whole of human consultation and discourse in order to read our own collective reality more effectively.