For all its charms, the weblog platform does also bury older content for no better reason than that newer material has come along. While we all like to feel we’re improving, whether you are writing blog posts, delivering babies, or making them yourself, you are likely not only as good or as interesting as your most recent effort. Neither are we.
In remedy, the entries linked below are accompanied by brief summaries of their content, as it appeared here a year ago this week.
The Geek Ascension, text-only personae, the origins of the written word and of computer culture, and the Cold War thriller Alas, Babylon all played a part in the letter with which Shift’s current editor introduced himself to the site’s founder, Andrew Lehman. That letter in time was reworked to become this entry.
While it’s always an iffy proposition to imagine that we, yes, we in our lifetimes, are straddling a cusp that marks an epochal change, it does seem that after what may have been millennia in complete or relative silence and isolation, the arrival of the internet may mark the beginning of a re-membering, a calling-home of the children for the sort of minds who brought it into being
Speculations on the relationship between OCD, abstract thinking, magical thinking, autism, Tourette’s, facility with pattern recognition and perfect pitch, maturational delay, left-handedness and evolution.
Autism is an evolutionary condition. Before we were facile with language, we lived in a world of ritual dance and music. Pattern recognition and exhibition was/is the world of the autistic person. The reason that our contemporary autistics often exhibit uncanny facility with pattern, perfect pitch and familiarity with the abstract is that this was the world before language, split consciousness, single narrative compulsion and magical thinking were engaged.
William Stillman, and early friend of the site, introduces a theme which is still being sounded here a year later. Lengthy list of examples included.
These common experiences—“brain fades” or instances in which our body vetoes brain signals—affect us all, making us kindred in our humanity. But if you did them with any degree of regularity, you’d be eligible for an autism diagnosis! The next time someone suggests an autistic person’s hand-flapping or finger-flickering is maladaptive, gently remind them that they do it too, only it looks like the times they sit and shake a leg!
In what might without apologies be dubbed the Lake Woebegone theory, the first in a series of three complementary explanations for autism traces the rise and fall of the high-testosterone dragon-slayer from prehistory through today.
High testosterone females mating with low testosterone males created the foundation for matrifocal society, the goddess cultures. Vanquished for several thousand years, this societal hormonal constellation is making a major, sudden comeback. High testosterone males mating with low testosterone females, though still a powerful current in contemporary culture (visualize Republican), is a current on the wane. Three forces are converging, creating an environment where the autistic is returning, except that the world is not exactly prepared for his and her return.
James Hillman’s archetypal psychology visualized as fully-set table waiting to be tied into with an eye toward the correspondences with and implications for the autistic experience.
And who then knows and lives that particular insight better than we who are so comfortable—disturbingly, alarmingly so for some—in our “solitude”? Who appreciates that crowded room, who is more at home in it, who knows its language, listens to its voices, and values its company more fully than we who are autistic? How ironic that those who are written off as “having no imagination” (as many autistic people are) may well be as thoroughly intimate with imagination as it is possible for a human being to be.