July is an odd part of the year from my perspective. My mother was born in the last week of it, and I was diagnosed with diabetes exactly thirty years to that day. I have already resolved that if my dream of being in the Human trials for a cure for diabetes comes true, I will ask them to do that procedure on my mother’s birthday. She will “get it”.
My sister is a mother now, too. She has three children, two of which are twins. She was a little past her thirtieth birthday when she became a mother, so she already has had a better start in that sense than our mother. But it is still relatively early days yet, so at the moment I am just grinding my teeth that little bit harder and hoping that thirty years from now, her children are better-adjusted than I am. One advantage that our mother has over us is that the redirection of wealth from the working and middle class to the CEOs was not in full swing until several years into my and my sister’s childhoods. I would hate to think what a clusterfukk of a life a child born to a twenty-one year old mother would have these days.
Speaking of grinding my teeth, the dentist that I currently avail myself to has reminded me that I have worn my teeth down a great deal. As in I need intervention to both prevent me from wearing them down further and rebuild them so that my bite is a bit more open. Fortunately, at least one government has wised up and realised that one of the reasons that it has such a poor track record in terms of dental health is because the working class can no longer afford to pay for dental care out of its own pockets. I think that says a lot, quite frankly, about Australia’s constant harping about being the “lucky country” and so forth. A lucky country has a thriving middle class and a working class that can at least take care of itself. Not an economy where both are so exhausted from picking up the upper class’ bills for them that government intervention to reduce the resultant health effects becomes necessary.
But probably the biggest thing on my mind lately has been how far the autism civil rights movement still has to go in terms of achieving its most long-term objective. That is, recognition of the fact that the autistic are Human beings too, and that the autistic deserve certain rights as well as protections as a result. When I describe this as the most long-term objective, I do not mean getting governments to recognise these facts. No siree. I mean the citizenry. I mean everyone from the rich men who spend their nights with supermodels in fancy penthouses to the archetypal ma and pa kettles who would not know autism if it crawled into their earhole and bit their brain’s arse. Because until we get the ma and pa kettle crowd to recognise that on at least some level, we will always be second-class citizens. And let me tell you something. A lot of the exhausted rambling and urging of the crowd to behave violently can be traced back to the simple fact that I am growing increasingly tired of living like a second-class citizen.
I still have not bought my mother anything for her fifty-fifth birthday as yet. Said birthday was last week, but the fact that I do not know exactly when I will be seeing her again, and that I usually have at least a day worth of advance notice of such visits, means that in coupling with the usual financial difficulty I have at the end of each month, I am putting off the purchase of any gifts for her until I either have money (this coming Friday), or I know she will be coming to see me soon (who knows?). I still have very little idea of what to get for her because, well, the well of ideas dries up easily when you have next to nothing in common with your immediate family.
My mother’s birthday is also the first birthday of the year out of my immediate family. My sister’s birthday is near to the middle of September, and mine is in the last week of October. As I have previously hinted, I have difficulty at times remembering the exact date of my mother’s birth. I generally remember that it is on the twenty-fifth day of a month in 1957, but I tend to forget exactly which month (July). I think there are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one of all is that I was, as has also been previously stated, diagnosed with diabetes on the thirtieth anniversary of this date. That is a hard thing to live with, especially on top of all the other wrongness in my world, so my memory of things connected with the final week of July tends to be involuntarily murky. As for the other reasons, I do not understand those well, and I think they are more excuses than reasons. I could go on about how I have a psychological reaction in which I see my mother’s birthday as the beginning of a domino run leading up to mine, but that is just plain lazy and selfish. I think the truth is that having a mental block relating to being diagnosed with diabetes at the time, although a sad reason, is a sufficient reason.
Another sad truth of my existence that makes any anniversarial event, including that of my own birth, difficult to remember is that one day tends to blur into another for me. I can tell you about things I did four weeks ago, or things I have in store for the future on specific days, but for heaven’s sake please do not ask me what happened on what specific day of two weeks ago. Or even one week ago, lately. One hope that I do have is that if I mention the anniversary of my mother’s birth in a journal like this one, and keep looking at timepieces that remind me of what date it presently is, I will have an easier time remembering those anniversaries in future.
This also brings me to an observation about my life that I think deserves some reflection. Regardless of whether one is autistic, homosexual, or otherwise “freakishly” different from the expected norm, it can be quite interesting to watch the predictable and preordained patterns that norms tend to go through in their lives. Getting older is, of course, unavoidable unless one dies at a specific point, but getting old in one’s thinking tends to be something brought on by stagnation, external influences, or both. Mentalities like the Alf Stewart mentality exemplified by the character of the same name in Please Go Away tend to be the result of a life spent around people who, rather than challenge and exercise a person’s mind, tend to only spit a person’s mind right back at them. And that, I fear, is what the mainstream children that I grew up with and are now adults are being herded into. The only persons I see amongst them who have resisted this herding and conformation of thought process have been, as you can probably figure out now, forcibly pushed out of the conformation process. And yet, in a strange way, they often end up falling over themselves conforming to their own, alternate little mainstream that is set up to catch them when the mainstream proper does not want them. Even the mainstream proper has noticed this, and set up what I call pseudo-alternative or “alternomercial” cultures for those who have been rejected this way but are not mentally strong enough to take that as a cue to find their own way. We all conform to something eventually, in some way, if only to fit in with groups that serve our mutual interest. Hence the pasting above of the cover art for the Cephalic Carnage album Conforming To Abnormality.
One of the many reasons I think that the autistic civil rights movement is duplicating a lot of effort and spinning around in circles is because of a lack of unification. We are all sort of our own mini-movements serving our own agendas without any real cohesion or communication unless it is in small splinter groups. As I have hinted in one of my fictions, this situation will not take long to boil over into one where an autistic adult, likely a Child Of The ’80s, who sees themselves as the new Joker or the new Magneto, decides to start hurting people. Because whether mainstreamists like it or not, living on the outside, in a situation of exclusion or even outright oppression, is not something that people generally choose on a conscious level. They have to be born or pushed into it, and the pushing is just as effective regardless of whether that push takes thirty years or a few months.
I think a critical step in the future will be to define exactly what autistic culture is. A critical step in that will be to make sure that people understand that, contrary to what its proponents want them to think, so-called “geek culture” is an entirely different thing to autistic culture. But the nebulous, self-defined nature of autistic culture also makes defining it properly a little difficult. Films like TRON: Legacy, RoboCop, or Blade Runner are definitely examples of autistic culture in visual format. But what of films like Total Recall or, to name a more recent example, Prometheus? And whilst Black Sabbath, Therion, or My DyING BRIDE on their “on” days can be thought of as components or examples of autistic culture, what of artists like the aforementioned Cephalic Carnage or DarkThrone? And what literature, both graphic or otherwise, do we include in the definition? X-Men? To Kill A Mockingbird? Stranger In A Strange Land or Have Spacesuit, Will Travel? The Short Timers or The Phantom Blooper? I think it is high time that the people trying to lead the way forward for the autistic have a sit-down and a long, hard, all-inclusive talk about what criteria constitutes a fair representation of an autistic culture. And when I say “all-inclusive”, I mean the inclusion of all types. Simply making up a panel entirely of what I will refer to as Einstein types for the sake of brevity is not going to accomplish anything because Powell types, especially extreme Powell types like myself, will only end up feeling excluded. And if you are wondering about why situations like the violence in Northern Ireland or the Middle East come about, I can tell you one essential component of the mess. It is because a significant group of people feel excluded.
This leads me to a critical point that a lot of the people who are not autistic but think that they know “someone with autism” and thus are qualified to talk for us never seem to get. I have to wonder at times if the people who engage in this activity ever wonder about what we think of their actions. Or whether they just automatically assume that we will see them as angels with the sun shining out of their arseholes. In cases like Autism Speaks, I think we can assume the latter. But what of the people who buy idiotic puzzle-piece based crap and think they are doing us some good? This is why we need to focus now, right now, on redefining autistic culture in our own image and presenting it to as wide an audience as possible. Because for as long as we have so-called “geek culture” encroaching on our territory and telling the world that we all resemble the Big Stereotype Theory full of assholic moron characters who could not find a redeeming feature in their own genetic structure, we will continue to have our message defined for us.
And I do not know about you, but I believe that journals and entries therein, such as the one you are reading now, are good examples of the fact that I am no longer okay with having my message defined for me.
(Final disclosure: the immediate above image of a text captioning of a frame from one of the Mushtrix films is a Tricia Kenney creation. Please do not comment to me about its content.)