Parrhesia: I shan’t complain

“Parrhesia is a criticism, a self-criticism or a criticism directed to others, but always from a situation where the one talking is in a position of inferiority with respect to an interlocutor. Parrhesia comes from below and is directed towards above.” Michel Foucault, Discours et Vérité, p. 84, Librairie Philosophique, VRIN, 2016.

I shan’t complain. I have had a lot of luck. Good fortune even. Or, maybe, it was by merit, just maybe it was a matter of worth. Whose worth? And is it worth it? Who the fuck am I, after all? Over time your self gets heavier. Stuff sticks to it – weighs you down – wears you out. Try flying if your wings are tarred with trying to move on despite pain, despite spite. Strike spite. I don’t hold a grudge. You’re all acquitted except for me because my head is a horse-heavy hole of hatred circulating itself. Heave. Ho.

Maybe that was the big bang. Maybe it’s what the humming in my ear wants to say when it is hissing. Once there was a ‘Who am I?’ asking what-the-fuck who imploded to be done with it and she (why not she?) had no clue that on the other side of implosion was – damn symmetry, damn it to hell (or not because it will bless you right back to heaven it will – an explosion and all of us. Every single one of us. Including me. Free speech like spit spite of me always trying to get on top and stuff clinging to me heavy-ing my head. Ho.

But you’re having fun, no. You are having fun. Well, fuck you, fuck the fit and fuck you well, for this:

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Autism continues to puzzle the brain

Cross-posted from: https://autismethics.com/

Recent phenomenological research (Hens & Langenberg, forthcoming) has found that receiving a diagnosis can be very helpful for autistic individuals. One of the significant elements is a coming to terms with the nature of autism as, at least in part, neurological diversity. As discussed in an Autism Ethics Network event in Utrecht, it makes a difference what type of neurological explanation is taken; as the explanation not only impacts the self-perception of autistic individuals but also the way in which autistic people are seen by society.

Sometimes it seems like there is a definitive consensus in cognitive science about autism. This is most definitely not the case. In a recent cognitive science paper (1) autism theories have been grouped as “social first and nonsocial” based on which facts are considered to be the primary cause of the behavior giving rise to an autism diagnosis. Recent cognitive research is taking the heterogeneity of symptoms and co-morbidities associated to autism as an occasion for developing novel theories. Below, that research is systemized somewhat inviting the reader to keep an open mind on autism research as well as on the very real ethical implications of going for one or another type of theory.

Our classification groups theories in the categories ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’. This can be taken literally: some theories start from facts at a higher social or cognitive level where others start from facts at a lower sensory, perception, motor or predictive coding level.

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The Autinomies of Philosophy

The chance of there being an unconscious typo in the title is about as big as that of Freud not having slipped up. If it appears I am talking in riddles that is only because you feel that there is something to decipher. One thing is certain: philosophers are weird. So am I. Even if that doesn’t establish anything as far as me being a philosopher, you got my drift.

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Let us wonder a while about the weirdness of philosophers. They have come up with waves and particles, with particulars and universals. Then they calculated and associated to come to one invariable conclusion: neither the one nor the other, or both at the same time but in an at most a superficial manner. Philosophers say they despair about this. That is merely a mask they wear to ensure somebody feeds them. If they’re particularly power hungry they will even exclaim they’ve solved it. Solutions sell, this much they know of real life. It’s one of those regularities that have neither rhyme nor reason.

Without weirdness we would discuss in caves instead of about waves. What is wrong with that? Caves are no place for philosophers. So what’s up with them?

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The looping parable

I write this inspired by the work of Ian Hacking on looping effects, human kinds and so on. My sympathies are with Hacking on this. Still, I believe there’s something that needs to be added: the social looping effect needs a binding effect in reality to remain stable. This has consequences: it is too easy to reduce a specific kind of humans out of the human kind just because they are confronted with a reality that happens to be out of the social norm.

Let me make up a story, a parable of sorts, about an imaginary civilization in which an evil both real and socially constructed exists. A parable has the virtue of edification because it illustrates a point without risking the muddle of prejudice which will inevitably surround any actual real and/or socially constructed concept or behavior.

Mountains, social exclusion and initiation rituals ahead:

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Improper Subsets

“Your occupation is to keep your disguise intact and you succeed in it because your mask is the most puzzling of all; to wit you are nothing, you are constantly only in relation to others, and what you are you are only in virtue of that relation.” S. Kierkegaard, Either/Or, own translation.

One word can make a world of difference. The word that makes the difference in the above quote is the word ‘only’. It is not a problem to be constantly in relation to others. Likewise it is not a problem to be yourself in virtue of that relation. The issue is when you are ‘only’ that. It is simply true that you are at least that and the sad truth is that in atomistic times that simple truth is swiftly swept under the rug. You can deny that what you are you are in virtue of your relation to others but the result of your denial is that you’re nothing because you add nothing; what remains of you is ‘only’ your mechanical relation to others.

It may be a stretch to go from Kierkegaard to mathematics. Still, there’s a sense in which it is improper to call the subset of all your relations a subset of all your relations. Somehow it is an impropriety shining through a most modern sense of self: by taking everything one is taking all that can be taken and this everything just ‘has to make do’. Well, it doesn’t and I will now rant a little on how this failure explains current political issues around identity as well as the intuition that personality-changing medication strikes us as ‘unreal’. It will be a rant that takes the Heisenberg principle as consequence – not cause! -of Kierkegaard’s above use of the word ‘only’. Call me crazy and just read on regardless. Crazy is fun.

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Proud to be Aut

I’ll just come out and say it: I’m autistic. I’m 48 years old. My diagnosis was confirmed last week. I have been labeled with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for a little over a week but the label means that I have been autistic all my life. That feels right given I’ve always felt a little off. When you live your life feeling out of phase with the world you can do two things: change the world or change yourself. I did both. I defined being normal and tried to live up to the standards. Any remaining awkwardness I compensated by controlling the context. It is not a strategy exclusive to autistic people, if you read attentively it is a common strategy for strangers to cope with and compensate for a world which is not (yet) theirs. In my case, I don’t look like a stranger and I don’t have a world which is self-evidently mine.

I’m writing this not as a complaint against the world nor as a frustration about myself. I’m writing this in the hope you might come to appreciate what it is to be different. Continue reading

Nightmare 1 on Albert Street

Legs heavy, I need to get there. Wear? Tear! Let me hold onto this railing. Oh – my arms feel wobbly as hell. How come everybody moves so swiftly? Why am I thinking in question marks? Keep moving. Do keep moving. It is important somehow although utterly unclear how anything can be. Important. I can’t rest, I would be trampled in dirt. So, move, ass-hole, move, you have two arms two pull you along if necessary. People bump into me – I go too bloody slow. Embarrassing. I’d like to apologize for hindering them. Don’t I know her? She’s nice. It’s time to man up. There, on my feet again. See I can do it. Others flow past me. I am an obstacle in their course. Speed the fuck up! My calves are trailing my thighs. I have to be an odd sight. Don’t scream. You tried. It was just disappointment. Just move on, if you fall maybe they’ll notice. Just make it dramatic. Extend your arms to break your fall. Delete that – breaking your nose will draw more attention. Anyway, your arms are tired already and you might need them again, later. Things are so grey even these words stand out too much. I’m not tired, just feeling unwell. It’ll be all right when I’m there. I can see some red. It might be my imagination.

Damn the fuck. Stairs! They seem endless even if there are only ten of them. Or Continue reading