Some hold that we actually do make progress, others that we can make progress and still others that we must make progress. This progressive spectrum from (neo)liberalism over Obama-ism to Extinction Rebellion is jointly attacked by reactionary forces who want to make things great again. The progressive defense against it is weak, specifically because of a tendency to organize circular firing squads over who is truly progressive. In times of actual regress it makes sense to do something (admittedly quite unprogressive): build up our defenses.
So let’s analyze once for all: what does it actually mean to be progressive.
Some people say it and others I just see thinking it: “You don’t seem autistic.” It is mostly meant as a compliment but it is one with a jagged edge. The thing to keep in mind is that being different has, always, this in-built tension between not wanting to be defined by it and inevitably being defined by it. In the case of autism the Catch-22 reads this way: “I’d be insane if I accepted to be autistic but, if I’m sane, I have to accept I’m not autistic.”
So I’ve spent months being strong in order not to divert the attention of others to the way I’m feeling (or not feeling, to be more exact). I’m pretty proud of that because I was there when I was needed. It was tiring though. Whilst the gap between the world and me was, at least seemingly, small the internal chasm grew bigger all the time. Ultimately it, again, swallowed me in a vortex of alienation that left me literally lost. I am a lucky bastard and the people whose back I had when they needed me had mine when I needed theirs. But it is not a given that this is the case which is why I feel the need to explain myself.
‘Without blinking an eye’, is a saying referring to how normal it is to blink your eyes. It is something we all do. It’s a doing with which we say something even if it’s something we’d rather have left unsaid.
As the saying goes, not doing it is remarkable. It either shows concealment or an absence of something we thought was being concealed. The saying is proverbially related to truth and trickery, to concealment and unconcealment. If people would never blink an eye this would amount to a perpetual staring match, the type of thing horror shows are made of.
Doings do this. They escape us. They defy willful control. They signal our emotions. They talk where sometimes we’ve been made to feel a need to remain silent. This is what we’re made to think: that emotions are “them” and controlling them is “us”. These doings are so made into sayings, such that we can control them rather than performing them.
In this way your body gets split from your soul and the I is split from its environment. It’s only the brain that connects them. If the connection is bad, it’s because your brain is bad. Because that’s what the brain is supposed to do: effectively disconnect me from you. This, in a nutshell, is growing up: the nut is your brain and the shell is your skull. And so we’ll bite our lips and count to 10 and hope we meanwhile don’t blink our eyes. A sorry state if ever there was. Is there an escape?
As a young boy the only thing I dreamed of was of becoming a philosopher. I became an engineer instead. It proved to be a shorter path to financial independence. I never shook my first dream though. We’re 30 years on and here I am, starting my PhD in philosophy. This is what happened. You judge whether it is a story of success or one of failure. I don’t know. Just comparing start and end it’s definitely a story of success. The lived experience is not as clear cut though. It rather feels like a mess.
We try to capture difference. It provides us a sense of certainty in a world of uncertainty. But, as the world is one of uncertainty, our attempts at classifying always wind up killing something of value. So here I am, at a loss because caught up in a need to capture what is different about people with Tourette.
This will probably all sound terribly self-absorbed. The truth is, I think, that one can only appreciate difference if one is open to what is shared. It seems that the one thing to keep in mind is that we are all human and thus, in a sense, the same. Difference and sameness are anything but opposed. In trying to understand those who are different we are asking who we truly are. My struggle therefore (at least also) is to understand myself, faced with a difference which seems so categorical it cannot be bridged.
So this is an attempt to see the red in me in order to be able to see what people see as too red in others or in themselves. Here goes: attempt one in a series that can never end.
Talking to a friend who suffered a psychotic breakdown made me curious. I know how it feels to suffer an autistic meltdown and I therefore know it feels nothing like it looks like. If only because it may well look like nothing is the matter. So how then would a psychotic breakdown feel like? Is that feeling as inaccessible to me as the grandiose schizophrenia stories make it out to be? I can’t be curious without feeling like the little kid Aristotle has talked about in his book alpha: I just need to open the box to see how it works. Here I go.
We went viral from the outset. There seemed to be no end to our reproduction. Ever new forms of us emerged. We were having a blast. The world was soon filled with a thin layer of organisms based on us. They started to bump into each other. Suddenly this became a gene-eat-gene world. You’d call it natural selection. We experienced it as stress. It hit us: our perfection was going to be the end of us. This was not going to last. Wanting to have it all would wind up being the death of us. But: wasn’t it already too late? And: shouldn’t we just enjoy it while it lasted? We couldn’t reach consensus. Our reproductive strength was also our weakness so some of us decided to turn that weakness back into productive strength: we would diversify (as we’re condemned to do anyway by the principles of our vitality).
This is the story of these charitable genes’ last ditch effort to save the world even if a lack of self-satisfaction might require some self-sacrifice.
Posted in JoB
Tagged autism, climate, cultural optimism, Davidson, evolution, Gadamer, genes, Heidegger, neurodiversity, Nietzsche, tones