Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Autistics with mad skills
Quite often I have cause to ask myself, "What is actually wrong with you?"
My favourite explanation is autism. My least favourite is narcissism. With autism you have trouble empathising with others, stunted emotional development, obsessional behaviour, an air of abstraction and perhaps, mad skills in maths, drawing or even, I'm quite sure, copywriting. Narcissism is obviously much less sympathetic - you have the same trouble empathising with others, stunted emotional development, obsessional behaviour and air of abstraction, but its source is an incessant self-regard, basically finding yourself so fucking interesting that people have to beat you about the temples with an inflated pig's bladder to wrench your attention away from your own navel for two seconds at a time. There's also no promise of any mad skills whatsoever, only the unfounded suspicion that if anyone round here has mad skills, it's probably you. Like autism it's technically not your fault, but no one else sees it that way - they just think you're not trying, and that you're a self-absorbed little shit. No-one would accuse an autistic, sitting there with a stub of charcoal, drawing detailed maps of non-existent cities including demographic statistics and bus timetables of just not trying. Or being a self-absorbed little shit.
Because they are trying, just at the wrong thing.
I always seem to be trying at the wrong thing, and usually at the wrong time too. This blog is only one instance of this behaviour.
I think I'm almost certainly autistic.
This being so I thought I'd do my bit for the autistic brothers out there. I don't know whether Paul Laffoley really has a diagnosis of autism, he certainly claims to, but he also claims that his dentist told him he had a kind of probe implanted in his brain. He lived and worked, for something like 30 years, in a small room in an office building in downtown Boston, which he named, with characteristic grandiosity "The Boston Visonary Cell". Early in his career he was employed by Andy Warhol to watch TV late at night, he was sacked by Emery Roth & Sons for suggesting they build walkways between the Twin Towers, for safety. His work has this strange sci-fi tenor, which is also weirdly retro - you can watch videos of him applying type decals to his paintings with a scalpel. His writing is really interesting, if you're interested in what writing by totally mad people is like, that is, meaning dislocated from sign. I remember when I was learning to speak thinking, wow this is easy, you just make these noises with your mouth and then everyone is pleased with you and smiles and you get a biscuit.
"As a felt and lived sensibility, Utopic space has a generic religious base because the concept of “Utopia” as Saint Thomas (1478-1535) said in his book of 1516, (who coined the term) Utopia means “Heaven on Earth”. This is an ontic state distinct from both heaven and earth, a situation that states that which has not history connects directly with that which has only history. What Saint Thomas Moore is describing is a reference to the major portal between eternity and time that the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato (428-347 BC) immortalized in one of his last dialogues, the pythagoreau cosmology of Timaeus."
You have to admit the man has an inpenetrable written style - it's almost like certain kinds of rap.
There's also Gilles Trehin, who is more your standard Aspergic diagnosis. He started off building a model airport out of Lego, in meticulous detail, and quickly moved on to writing a departure timetable for the said Lego airport. Having constructed this airport, it was only natural that it should be attached to a major city, and so Urville was born. In the intervening years he's produced hundreds of pictures of this city, devised its economy and a history and culture that goes back several hundred years. This is a tremendous, freakish feat of creativity - and one that I believe could only have been achieved with a total disregard for others. Even with the necessary polymath abilities to link all one's creative ideas up into a single unified system, most people lack the single mindedness to see something like this through.
This is actually the opposite of advertising, where things are only judged to be useful based on their impact on the consumer. Here all the energy goes in the other direction and to hell with everyone else.