A Tale of Two Rivers

Two RiversThe following is an informal continuation of Laurence Arnold’s musings on autism as geography, featured recently in this space under the title Rainbows End.

I suppose I ought to comment on the current topic of debate, the disappearing trajectory of Asperger’s (syndrome, disorder, call it what you will).

I expect I could make all manner of historical comparisons and cite a number of sources, all of which I will subsequently have to do when I am writing up my research anyway.  But (if I am allowed to start a sentence that way) I shall fall back into the land of analogy and go back to a geographical fable.

Once upon a time there were two countrymen, explorers both.  One went away across the mountains to live in a foreign country but the other stayed at home.  However each of them discovered a stream, the one who lived in a foreign land found that the stream got stronger and even though it went through a number of rapids on the way it became a mighty river which he gave a name to.

The other explorer’s stream seemed to meander on through deep woods and almost petered out.  The explorer who tried to follow this stream was almost forgotten until one day a third explorer, familiar with the big river named after the first thought that neglected stream had water in it of a very similar hue and consistency to that in the big river on the other side of the mountains.  This new explorer thought that the second explorer had been neglected and so named this newly rediscovered stream after him.

As time went on and more and more explorers followed these two streams, as they became rivers, down towards the sea, the rivers seemed to merge as they overflowed into the flood plain at the far end of the mountain range which divided the two countries.  They seemed to merge, and then separate, and merge again sometimes leaving isolated oxbow lakes in the way that mature rivers are wont to.  Indeed it became difficult to say whose river was contributing the most water flow.  People argued as to which of the names given by the explorers the delta should be named after.

Then one day, one day, somebody decided that instead of settling the issue by following the streams down to the sea, where the river had become so wide it had lost all distinction as it merged with the tide, they would try and follow each river to its source.

At last they discovered why the waters were so similar:  because both streams had the same source at the watershed.  One flowed an easy path down one side of the mountain into the country the first explorer had moved to whilst the other flowed down the other side through secluded woods until it emerged at the bottom of the mountains onto the plain shared by both countries alike.

It was the same water all along, and the explorers names?  Kanner and Asperger.

A Tale of Two Rivers first appeared at in regione caecorum rex est luscus and is reprinted here with permission of the author.

on 03/25/10 in Art/Play/Myth, featured | No Comments | Read More

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