Divergent

picture by @sweetspectre18 (on Twitter)

Am I neuro-divergent? On the autism spectrum somewhere, a species of Asperger’s person or something?

Seriously, I’m asking. Anyone who follows me, if anyone is reading, is that what this looks like to you?

I’m not the Good Doctor, I know that, not that I watch that. I don’t “not understand human emotions,” or anything. I was a pretty successful serviceperson for the phone company, business telephone systems – only towards the very end, as I was breaking down from a medication reaction and a life of gaslighting, did I ever find myself misunderstood, and getting in a bit of trouble. I used to pride myself on my communication skills as well as my getting along skills.

There is some dispute about this. I think I’m not always feeling what I’m supposed to be feeling and while I think I’m processing a complex bunch of emotional information, some folks have said I missed the main feeling. Full disclosure, I took an online EI test and this was my experience, that there was no room in the test for my constant stream of nuanced noise, and I didn’t do as well as I think I should have. Perhaps there is something of divergence in that as well as simple bad data from self-reporting.

I had other theories about why I find life difficult, depression, bipolarity, maybe intelligence, coming from a clan of abusive hillbillies, a lot of theories, and ASD really hasn’t been one of them.

I checked it out anyway, after I lost everyone, I took a long online test, 45 minutes, and I came out the most neuro-typical person possible, and I wanted to agree. Other inquiries, 23 and Me, showed nothing, turns out I’m white, English, the Mensa IQ test showed the comic book one I took as a kid to be right about me, they let me in. Most of my theories haven’t been too bad, but brain types, neuro-types, that’s some very fuzzy stuff. My kid thinks this is our problem, and they think the test was just wrong, inadequate to find anything, and sure. I don’t have a lot of faith in any particular application of mental science myself, not to say anything about free online ones.

I want to argue with this possible ASD diagnosis, the idea bothers me and I’ll tell you all about it, but I want to stay open to it too. I would like something to fit. I gotta be me, but it’s tiring.

I think I can make a case for an instance of a specific divergence, the point of all this, my insight that “negative consequences” are less consequences than they are causes, that our punishments are crimes also and cause the bad things. I . . . I’ve worked this out, audited it, tried it from all angles – my brain says this is the way it is, and I’ve heard your arguments, I won’t be turned around. I want to say, I’m not divergent, you’re divergent! Not simply because I haven’t got the different brain idea fully yet – I haven’t, but because it’s part of my theories, that humans, almost alone among Earth’s creatures are obsessed with moral abuse and hurt one another on the regular. Hurt, I said. Plenty of animals kill one another, the killing is not the unique bit, is it? In this way, I think humanity has diverged from the rest of the animal kingdom to some degree. Human laws ban perfectly normal animal behaviour and allow things that no other animal would endorse.

Humanity is divergent and has serious social problems, seems unable to get comfortable around other living things. At least this modern, extreme version of us.

OK, that’s an extra level removed.

Before the divergence idea came to me, I had been writing for months, maybe longer that in order for humans to evolve, the next move is to stop all that, stop the spanking and such. My kid said there is talk that divergent minds are evolution throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, that the next thing will come from somewhere along the spectrum – this convergence of divergence is tempting.

But is it really a different sort of brain, really a spectrum matter to have one different thought? Well, I suppose “this thought” is rather broad, perhaps antisocialization theory is the name I have thrown over a whole raft of ideas or traits, which, perhaps my homemade version belongs with all the rest, then? I’m trying to be open to this, but in my heart of hearts, or perhaps only today after all, I know that autism goes far beyond matters of aggression, violence, or moral abuse, doesn’t it? Wait, is this one, a trait that isn’t antisocialization theory?

I have always sort of held a rational world simulation in my head, I always deal at a degree of separation. When I’ve had time to think – I try not to do anything where I don’t, so I do a lot of nothing – I’ve always postulated, like “how would this make sense in a more sensible world,” when making decisions, I try to ask myself, “would I make this choice if I weren’t high/angry/sad/white/crazy/male/young/old? I always imagine a straight line that no-one is on but that we all dance around, like the way no-one plays the straight melody in a jazz jam. Is that weird?

This is what I imagine to be “rationalism,” or the path to it, what is the thought, as divorced as possible from where it originated, if we are removed, what is left? I find the science-minded folks that jump to the end of it, that humans “aren’t rational,” are missing the entire world, which resides in the attempt, in making rational what we can.

I assume that’s how we should all deal, and the particular vagaries of anyone’s brain should not amount to a label, again, nobody is on the straight line, and I don’t mean a matter of degree either! Our combined social straight line goes directly to war and strife. The idea that someone gets a fringe label for not being close enough to that line is insane. But that’s just me – ha, that has to be a title at some point. The human line is nowhere near my projected “rational” one, you all need to get off that road and follow me. Not “me,” of course, but we should get away from the social line and try to imagine a rational one, like I did. I may be crossing some line from social critic to mystic – I like that better than “divergent,” too, because again, diverging from what? The popular human divergence that always looks like it’s coming to a horrible end every day of our lives so that we can’t tell the difference when it finally really is?

Hey – I’m going to hazard a guess that straying from the normal social line towards a rational one is enough to make you weird, and perhaps this fits the ‘evolving human’ theory of ASD that the Venn diagram for it merely overlaps heavily with one for rational thinking. That leads to the idea that anything like a treatment for that would be gaslighting torture, the irrational correcting the rational for “social” problems – like not cheering loudly enough at rallies, says my anti-“social” philosophy.

On repeat again, resisting again, and I keep forgetting the point today wasn’t to do that, but to tell you why I do, why I have chosen the public over the personal. It’s just because no-one else is making that choice. OK, that’s just divergence, contrariness – I mean because no-one else is and someone needs to. It needs doing, some age, some year, by someone. We have public, group functions that grind people to bits, and all I see are bandages, babies being pulled out of the river, I just don’t see anyone looking upriver and if that means a problem in my brain, then we should segregate my brain?

Is there not a real world? Real babies?

That doesn’t matter because I’m weird?

It’s confusing, I feel myself protecting something, resisting something, and a life of being under the psychological spotlight and self doubt tells me, it’s you, look first in yourself. I understand it, I do, I’m sure we all agree that I don’t, me too, much of the time, but I do . . . as always, though, I think I see something else too – the conflict between the personal and the public, or individual and species. I’m afraid that if I follow the personal route, the personal, psychological thought, that I am abandoning my social critique, being silenced – defeated by my own theory, slapped down and signing some NDA about what is wrong about all of us, taking my beating and learning my lesson and finally shutting the fuck up – signing off that it’s me that’s weird and tacitly that normals are normal.

Just because I’m not doesn’t mean you are, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I do not want to hand you anything like a label for you to use to invalidate me I’m sorry, if it sounds like I think autistic thoughts aren’t valid. I surely have that bias, but the point in this paragraph is not what I think, but what the public thinks and the slightly larger point in all of this is that this thought matters, autistic or not, all thoughts do. Thoughts mean more than where they came from, and my instincts scream against any theory that comes down to who or what you are. That is social stuff, and just what needs to get turned down a notch. Antisocialization theory is a rational, important thought in my projected rational world, beyond my brain, or your brain, or human brains generally. Sure, I’m defending, I’ve been invalidated enough, thank you. I don’t need any more, not voluntarily, not self inflicted. I’m thinking about it, I haven’t ruled it out. I promise.

I’ll accept it at my pace, when both my hemispheres come around, if they do. I just don’t want it to matter when and if it does.

The idea that I could find comfort, healing, some peace, focussing on the personal, first, I’m very inward, I don’t not personally, but in my philosophy, the idea that I could identify my syndrome and learn more about myself that way, get a broader understanding, think about my own problems more and “everybody’s” problems less – this I plan to sacrifice, to abstain from, because I think I see public problems, group things that no-one else is talking about, and . . . weird to say, I don’t think I can be happy sorting myself out if the world is still awful. I mean, I’m a bit of an amphibian that way, defenseless from the environment. Both my worlds, public and private went straight to Hell in 2015, 2016.

I don’t really understand how you all act like that’s the plan, tell you the truth, sorting yourselves out in this landscape of nightmares – but the answer to that is antisocialization theory, this illness is our solution for something.

I literally don’t care about myself in this equation, I think of my personal self as sort of done and dusted and I see the problems occurring during childhood development. There’s not much help and very little point pulling this baby out of the river, I beg you, be like me, forget me, forget you and look upstream. Nobody is thinking about everybody and everybody has problems, no matter how many of us think we’ve solved our own.

The idea that I am a mutation has occurred before, and that didn’t seem to remove all point and hope from my theory, but ASD does, somehow, maybe because if I was the first mutation, a one-off, that didn’t come with a label, a dismissible label? A self-dismissible label? I haven’t been able to write since this idea came up, it seems pointless suddenly, my pontificating across that gulf, across brain types.

Again, as always, I’m running from a monster nobody else sees, that’s literal, narrative divergence, and the problem is one of those Gordian knots, because “divergent,” is personal, an identity. Not that anyone is compiling a record, but if they were, I would be on record as having been uncomfortable about identities for some time, at least as long as we’ve been seeing bloody swastikas in the news again, I’ve said, darkly and cleverly many times, those folks are really into identities. I’ve evolved a little about it, I no longer worry that potential victims pre-label themselves, because I remember that if all the identities’ problems become dire under some regime, that those sorts of regimes make their own labels anyway. But I have diverged from the social justice movements about it for another reason, or you all have, I’m not sure.

I was born in 1960 and I thought I was the ultimate liberal hippie, because I thought global things like “don’t judge a book by its cover” and maybe even “don’t lay your hang-ups on other people,” – peace and love, and I just thought it meant anybody and everybody. I thought it was one fight, everybody for everybody. I also thought it wasn’t a fight, I thought it was a love-in and not fighting was kinda the point.

But that’s just me?

It breaks my heart continually to see how every persecuted group has grouped up and gotten their own pundits and lobbyists, you know, black groups, LGBTQ groups. I see us as divided and conquered, somehow by ourselves. I see every group pulling its babies out of the river forever and getting more and more organized and well branded about how they pull the babies out of the river, a dozen small, well organized groups, pulling babies out of the river. It’s complicated, because the hospital is upriver, and we all have our babies there, despite that it’s run by the dominants and the normals.

Identities are an expression of human group conflict, like so much of life and they are not going to solve group conflict, group conflict, as always, is only solved by joining up into a larger group. Breaking society down into groups and identities, each with their leaders and soldiers . . . this is not progress, this is humanity’s problem forever. I am sorry. It feels right, because doing your problem always feels right, like addiction. And it really does take a formerly ostracized individual and put them in a traditional human situation, a group, battling another group. I’m sure there’s a sense of coming home, of joining or rejoining humanity in it, absolutely – just for the eternal wrong reasons, sort of. The sense of community, of support and power . . . all these the Nazi groups enjoy also. Groupness is the problem, not “which group,” that is a framing from groupness, from conflict. It’s part of humanness, perhaps, perhaps some evolution is recommended. I have enjoyed the literal, physical advantages of being born into the dominant group, but I must say, I have never enjoyed their support, emotionally. Who wants that? I mean, beside all the gradients of racist? We are the worst. Dominant, worst, these are synonyms to a person of peace, or they are in my divergent mind.

The opposite, the warrior attitude is only true if a life of constant conflict is “best.” Sorry if that’s fuzzy, I don’t want to say it here, let this be one place you don’t see it. It is not the best; it could be better. The worst rule. It’s like nobody remembers the schoolyard or something, we hate it then, and maybe we assume something like that it couldn’t possibly be that way everywhere, at all levels?

Another expression of this divergence involves social theory, relatedness theory. I’ve written it already, so briefly, it’s well established that caring is gene sharing sort of thing, that we risk most, work most for ourselves, with 100% our genes and next for our progeny which have at least 50% and so on, and the least fair way I can say it is, this is why we don’t generally murder and eat our own, those are our genes, we want them to live, we help them when we can.

This I see as making sense against some unspoken backdrop of violence, that the other side of this coin is that of course you would kill and eat some person who wasn’t family. I suspect that neuro-typical people accept this, makes some sort of sense – I mean, they wouldn’t say it like I just did, they wouldn’t have to confront it, it’s the positive expression, we help our own, that’s how it’s talked about. Is it only my divergent self that sees the other side of the coin, the totality of the concept? I looked at this and decided that humans must operate from some active drive on the theory of unrelatedness, that unrelated bovines or ungulates or many things do not have this response to their own kind, only mitigated by relatedness, that there is no pressure on kangaroos to use and abuse unrelated kangaroos.

We are predators, sure – but we go further. You don’t see the alpha lion defeating some upstart and then bringing him home as a slave. Territoriality is brutal, but lions do not make their living off of unrelated lions.

The lack of relatedness doesn’t seem to necessitate abuse among predator or prey – slavery, etc., – to me, and further, and I’m shocked, but I don’t see that in the books. I spend most of my blogs talking about the background, ideas of human nature, but maybe there is more to the background and environment than just ideas like those. The totality of the concept – that’s not divergence, that’s just philosophy, Kant, I think. Still not sure about the “rationalism.” The divergence around social theory, thinking about the background . . . I don’t want to think so, but other folks don’t see it, that’s really the test, isn’t it?

It sounds like a lot of the “traits” or issues for folks with ASD are about how other people treat them – us, maybe – about what other folks don’t see, and I feel that. I’m sensitive, what is normal conversation to everyone seems full of defensiveness and disdain to me, I am continually hurt that people always seem to be assuming the worst about everyone and about me. A big part of antisocialization theory is that the abuse desensitizes us all, so extricating that, untangling these things . . . I can see myself trying to take this on, I sort of need another impossible puzzle, I’ve outlived the first one, beat the game that wasn’t supposed to be beatable, and I’m getting bored again.

NAS has a lot of overlap too, and I’m a lot more serious about thinking I’m suffering that than anything else these days. I suspect the experience of divergence is a lot like that, the feeling of gaslighting, it’s all basically trying to live in someone else’s brain, someone else’s story. Right? Does divergence get worse? The world used to irk me, but these days I feel I just glance off of it, that I can’t penetrate it at all. That’s the NAS, I assume.

Having that feeling like I’m not going to outlive this puzzle. Looks pretty impossible.

Or maybe in my next blog, I’ll file the whole idea with psychology, with counselling and therapy generally, as all part of the gaslighting, all part of why I should shut up and help pull babies out of the river. I don’t know. This is the agony side of the process.

This one belongs in both blogs, this is a fuzzy one that is half personal and half theory, which I don’t know if it’s coming together or coming apart just now. Yee-hah. Be as children, live in the question . . . like I said. Tiring.

Jeff

Nov. 27th., 2020

11 thoughts on “Divergent

  1. Anonymous November 30, 2020 / 7:12 am

    It’s attractive, the idea of choosing ones label and identifying with a group, a community of like-minded others who can slap you on the back and say, Welcome! Or even, Welcome home… it’s attractive and seductive and even I have fallen once for the notion that maybe I too belong to the “divergent” community, esp with my history of mutism and not looking at peoples faces. But I resist all seduction, in the literal sexual sense, or not resist exactly just fail to have a physiological response (being “asexual” and lacking in interest, but not in the i-belong-to-the-community-of-asexuals sense) and so I soon realized I didn’t want that label either, however enticing…Enticing is the point, in fact, the siren lure of a group to all loners and outsiders that yes, you could be one of US too.

    Instead, i have simply accepted that I’m a loner and really love being alone, doing my own thing, pandemic or no pandemic, and every group I think about joining just ends up making me miserable with its group-think and groupie demands.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Phoebe Wagner November 30, 2020 / 7:14 am

    That anonymous was me, phoebe! and my response was rudely cut off and posted as anonymous because I accidentally hit a wrong key…but now that it posted, I guess I will let it stay. And won’t add more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff/neighsayer November 30, 2020 / 11:38 am

      thanks, Phoebe, I’ll read that – but every article takes me at least a day, several starts, not sure why, well yes, I am, everything feels like gaslighting rubbish. I’m sure you’re right about all of it, and I’d forgotten Mad in America, but I trust. Thanks.

      Like

      • Phoebe Wagner December 1, 2020 / 2:52 am

        The article is very long so I just skimmed it but it helped debunk the notion that autism means anything and alerts one to the fact that the person who invented the “constellation” called Aspergers., herr doktor Asperger was a nazi and “saw” This syndrome in those he had selected that might possibly be saved from extermination…. but it was an invention nothing more, just another man made category in which to place undesirable people. Neuro divergent means not a whit. Every single person is neuro divergent from the next. That’s all. To belong to that group is just another way to Other the rest of the world. And you don’t want that I don’t think.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff/neighsayer December 1, 2020 / 9:19 am

          yeah, it doesn’t fit me, even if it was a real thing. I’m going to have to learn the lingo, though, my kids have taken it on, just to be able to argue with them about it. You know what I think, it’s NAS and it’s still the narcissist winning when they’re looking for differences or problems within themselves to square all the lies they’re having to listen to – but they don’t agree, it’s them all against me. I’m trying to steer them to the truth, gently, without bludgeoning them with those terms too much, NAS, etc., without making myself the attacker. I’m reading it, the Nazi business was news to me, for sure. Thanks for it.

          Like

          • Jeff/neighsayer December 1, 2020 / 9:31 am

            You know what, I don’t have to argue neuro-diversity and I won’t – it’s just the general thing, psychology, the internal focus, my usual argument, why are we diagnosing and adjusting victims and not abusers, right? Why are the good folks searching for their faults and not looking outside themselves for larger causes of their problems. I know you know.

            Like

        • Jeff/neighsayer December 1, 2020 / 9:23 am

          OMG – is the blog one long paragraph to you?
          The format here is horrible for me – good for you, I guess, for pics? I click anything, it’s always switching from Post back to Block, I think that has something to do with losing the format.

          Like

          • Phoebe Sparrow Wagner January 11, 2021 / 6:37 am

            If you put in the website address madinamerica and then search the autism article it should come with paragraphs but formatting changes over various platforms is a complete mystery to me. The Austism article was a book chapter so it might be worth looking into the book itself though for me unless the book has a french edition I don’t read it !

            Liked by 1 person

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